If locals open up their backyards to camping during the Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF), Jocelyn Klein plans to ride her motorcycle 1,221 kilometres from Edmonton to the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Renting one’s yard to festival-goers is a tradition some large North America events have taken under their wings, the Edmontonian said. It’s what Klein does when the 50-year-old attends the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
“Every year people rent out part of their yards,” Klein said, noting it’s cost-effective and eases concerns regarding vandalism to bikes. “I don’t know if I am going to come to [SVMF] because of the $300 camping charge.”
During the first week of August, Sturgis, a town of 6,627, becomes a hive of activity for approximately half a million bikers. South Dakota state regulations limit the number of people camping in one’s backyard to two people. A few years ago, Sturgis didn’t technically allow camping in yards, city building inspector Scott Rovere said. That all changed when municipal officials and local businesses realized they weren’t capitalizing on the huge influence of people, he said.
Instead of stopping in the community’s heart, bikers rode straight through, set up base in the festival’s campgrounds and did not take advantage of Sturgis’s downtown amenities, Rovere said. As a result, city staff changed its policy allowing up to 18 “friends” and “family” on one’s property, he noted.
“After a couple of years, everyone is friends and family,” Rovere said, noting many homeowners host repeat customers.
Salmon Arm took a different approach. The Shuswap community’s annual Roots and Blues Festival, which draws some 30,000 music lovers each year, secures agricultural land reserves for camping and residents aren’t allowed to rent out their backyards, said Sue Smith, the city’s planning clerk for development services.
“It is not condoned,” she said, noting that doesn’t stop it from happening.
However, so far, it doesn’t seem to be a big issue, Smith said, adding the bylaw isn’t enforced unless municipal staff receive complaints.
Squamish’s zoning bylaw allows for campgrounds only in certain areas. Camping in one’s backyard or driveway is not a violation, but profiting from it technically would require a business licence, district spokesperson Christina Moore wrote in an email.
“Other bylaw infractions may come into play as a result of any complaints received by the district as it may pertain to noise, garbage or wildlife attractants, etc., as a result of backyard camping,” Moore stated in an email.