Victoria bylaw officials are moving to enact time limits on parking along Dallas Road because of complaints that people in vans and RVs are using it as a campground.
A city official said changes are in the works with signs to be posted and enforcement to follow. The limit will likely be three hours. No limits are posted now.
Some van dwellers, calling themselves Victoria Van Life, plan on attending the mayor’s monthly open house on Tuesday to protest the new rules. But Janice Williams, who lives near Dallas Road with her husband and two sons, said she is glad to hear the city is planning something. “I welcome it and I hope it will alleviate the problems, but unless it is enforced, it will be meaningless,” said Williams.
She said she and her neighbours have been hounding city hall and councillors for the past year about the vans and RVs parked along Dallas Road and at Clover Point. But there was little response.
Williams said she started an online petition days ago after her neighbour encountered a bag outside her home filled with garbage and feces. By Friday, the petition had gathered 237 names.
An existing Victoria bylaw forbids RV parking on streets. It also forbids people from sleeping in motor-vehicles overnight.
The rules are spelled out in sections 83 and 84 of the Streets and Traffic Bylaw and can be read online at victoria.ca.
“I know there are rules and bylaws, but it seems like they only apply to people who live conventional lives,” said Williams. “It shouldn’t just be the downtown shopper who gets a ticket.”
Meanwhile, a group of the van dwellers are planning to attend the monthly mayor’s open house on Tuesday to pitch their case.
Jasper Sunshine, 26, who said he has been living in his van all over Vancouver Island for nearly three years, said he believes it’s unfair to blame the van dwellers for the garbage.
“There’s two kinds of people out there. There’s homeless people and there are people in the vans,” said Sunshine. “Eighty per cent of the people I know who live in their vans are very environmentally conscious.”
Sunshine estimated about 45 people live in vans and RVs and park in Victoria. At least 10 of them plan on attending the mayor’s open house.
He said he is an eight-year army veteran dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and living on a government pension. But he knows many who have jobs.
He said the van life is driven by the lack of affordable housing in Victoria. Forcing van dwellers into campsites outside the city would demand a daily drive back and forth for those who work. And campsites charge fees.
“It would kind of defeat the whole purpose of this lifestyle,” said Sunshine.
Mayor Lisa Helps could not be reached for comment.
But Coun. Geoff Young was glad to hear the city’s public servants are moving to make it difficult for van dwellers to park overnight on Dallas Road.
Young said he has heard the time limit will probably be three hours. Like Williams, he believes enforcement will be key.
“If we don’t enforce we will just get increasing numbers of people taking advantage,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful location, probably one of the most beautiful spots to park a vehicle in all Canada,” said Young.
“People have been taking advantage of the ability to park there overnight and essentially live there.”