Grants Landing, a quiet and somewhat hidden community on the edge of the Fraser River in Langley, is made up of dozens of houseboats and floating homes – just west of Derby Reach.
Vanessa Valentine was readying to celebrate four years of residing there, when the recent stretch of cold, snowy weather left her without a home.
“The river can be a rough place in the winter,” Valentine assured. “Beautiful in the summer, but just brutal in the winter”
Valentine said she sold her Maple Ridge home and bought the house boat after seeing a television program that boasted tiny homes and living within smaller means.
“I always dreamed of living on the river and have this tiny home fascination. When I saw this woman looking for something under $150,000 on this TV show and they showed houseboats, I thought ‘that’s it’,” Valentine explained.
She called the houseboat lifestyle “not very glamorous,” but said the small, two-level dwelling on the water gave her exactly the kind of life she wanted to live.
On Jan. 13th, she said the pipes froze up on her, which wasn’t an uncommon occurrence; by Jan. 15th, the houseboat starting listing to one side.
“I was inside when the cabinets flew open and I went out to go clear the snow,” Valentine recounted. “There was water in the hull that I should have pumped out earlier, but by then, it was too late.”
The weight of the water and snow caused the boat to submerge into the Fraser, partly listing against the dock.
Valentine said the houseboat sat in that position until the next morning, when she was able to “rally the troops” and attempt to salvage whatever possible.
“We worked for hours trying to raise it up and pump out the water to save whatever we could,” Valentine recalled. “The bedroom was okay so a lot of my clothes made it out and some personal items; that was with about 18 hours worth of work.”
Harsh weather and an unstable balance cause the boat to sink back into the water within minutes, causing Valentine and the crew to be “right back to square one.”
“A lot of my belongings were soaked – a painting I had inherited from my dad,” Valentine said. “Know one knows the plan right now. There’s the possibility of getting it towed out, but who knows who expensive that will be?”
As of now, Valentine is staying in another houseboat, since the owner left for holidays until the end of the month.
After their return, she plans to stay at her brother’s home in Maple Ridge.
”I have places to stay,” Valentine said. “But I hate asking for help. I’m not used to it – I’ve always been the giver. Neighbours have been coming with donations of clothing, furniture, and money – people here are so amazing”
In the long term, Valentine said she is unsure if she’ll ever be able to call Grant’s Landing home again.
“I would love to – in my wildest dreams – build a tiny floating home,” she said. “I’m hating the idea that I’ll have to leave this marina and not come back.”
Despite the complete displacement, Valentine said she’s keeping a positive outlook on everything, hoping in the meantime to celebrate her 57th birthday which happened on the day her home began to sink.
“You have to stay positive; there’s a silver lining to everything and everything happens for a reason,” Valentine stressed. “It is a freeing feeling in a way.”
A Go Fund Me account has been set up by Valentine’s family to help her replace some of the possessions she lost.
People can visit www.gofundme.com if they wish to donate.
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