British Columbia

Time for RV dwellers to move home, East Vancouver businesses say

Businesses on along a quiet street in East Vancouver want the city to deal with a dramatic increase in the number of campers and RVs permanently parked there.

Growing number of people living in vehicles on Glen Drive is causing garbage, rats, safety issues

Several vans and RVs on Glen Drive in Vancouver are creating garbage and safety problems, some local businesses say. (CBC)

Businesses on a quiet street in East Vancouver want the city to deal with what they call a dramatic increase in the number of campers and RVs permanently parked there.

Glen Drive near Terminal Avenue has in recent months become a hub for people parking and living inside their vehicles.

It's part of a larger trend across Vancouver of people skirting expensive housing by living in vehicles.

John Knapton, who owns a clothing business in the area, says the growth of vehicle dwellers has resulted in garbage, rats and safety problems.

"We find extension cords across roads that some of our retailers have tripped on," he said. "We've had to bring in pest control because of rodents."

Business owner John Knapton would like the City of Vancouver to find a place for people who live in their vehicles to park permanently where they could access services. (CBC)

Knapton wants the city to find a different location for the van dwellers to park, somewhere where there are proper facilities and services for garbage.

"I'd like to see them clean it up. I'd like to see them find a place for these people," he said.

Garbage left along Glen Drive in Vancouver. (CBC)

The City of Vancouver says it's aware of what's happening on this street, but it does not ticket people living inside vehicles.

The only thing it can enforce are parking regulations.

There are three-hour time limits in most of residential Vancouver, and tickets can cost $40-$100. An impound can top $200.

The city says that within the past week it's sent members of its homeless outreach team to help connect people living out of vehicles along Glen Drive with services or even long-term housing.

But not everyone who is living on the street wants to move anywhere else.

"I love it. I love it," said Kevin Royes, who has lived out of an RV for the past three years.

Kevin Royes has lived out of an RV for three years. (CBC)

He says he's a former entrepreneur and is experimenting with essentialism — living with only the things he needs.

"I get water across the street ... electricity I don't use much," he said. "I have a solar panel so I charge my phone sometimes."

Ben Pearson has been living in a Chevrolet van for two years due to skyrocketing rents. He says he moves it every day to a new location.

He's not worried about being able to access the things he needs.

"Pretty much the only thing I need is showers," he said. "Community centres, friends' places — that's where I get showers."

Ben Pearson, who has lived out of a Chevy van for two years in Vancouver, says he moves the vehicle every day. (CBC)

Pearson says each year he's been living in his van, the number of people doing the same thing has tripled.

"It's getting worse and worse," he said.

Officials counted people living in vehicles as part of its homeless count for the first time in 2017 — registering 58 in Metro Vancouver, including 17 in Vancouver.

People like Royes say a community is starting to take shape along Glen Drive. He's had neighbours over for dinner.

He says even if he gets a bylaw ticket related to parking, it's still cheaper than paying the average monthly rent in Vancouver, which is around $1,800.

With files from Farrah Merali