Surrey’s civic government cannot in good faith legislate its way out of something like this amid our current housing crisis.
Yet legislate, it has.
Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke argues that council’s decision to ban sleeping in RVs on streets is “mean-spirited” and a “non-issue” seeing as the city has only received 27 complaints so far this year about it, and of those, 25 were dealt with through an existing bylaw.
It’s akin to removing a dandelion with a backhoe.
Moreover, why is Surrey bylaws department now tasked with chasing this issue when it clearly does not have a handle on more pressing matters like enforcing the city’s fireworks bylaw, to which an ongoing barrage of complaints received by this newsroom bears witness.
The decision to make it illegal to sleep in an RV on Surrey’s streets is also cynical in the absence of city hall providing a reasonable housing alternative in a market where the average monthly rent is $1,079 and the vacancy rate is 0.4 per cent, shelters are full and long-time residents of trailer parks receive eviction notices.
Councillors Steven Pettigrew, Jack Hundial, Linda Annis and Locke voted against the bylaw changes Monday, with the rest of council voting in favour.
It’s most unlikely that people sleeping in their RVs are not simply taking a break from relaxing at their mansion on Crescent Road. It’s also almost certain they are doing so because they have no other financial alternative.
City staff in a Nov. 4 report to council recommended changing the city’s Highway and Traffic Bylaw to prohibit recreational vehicles from being parked for more than 24 consecutive hours on city streets and their being used as a dwelling or place to sleep while parked.
The report states that those deemed to be in contravention of the bylaw would be subject to tickets if the city is “unable to obtain voluntary compliance,” ranging from $35 to $200.
It’s like a Dickens novel.