In the face of substantial opposition, the District of Squamish is delaying its adoption of a bylaw that would enact a blanket ban on vanlife and camping within municipal boundaries.
During their meeting on July 28, council voted 4-3 in favour of delaying the bylaw’s adoption. Presumably, the issue would be revisited sometime in the fall, as this meeting is the last before council’s summer break.
Mayor Karen Elliott and councillors Doug Race, John French and Eric Andersen were in favour of delaying adoption.
Councillors Jenna Stoner, Armand Hurford and Chris Pettingill were opposed. Instead of deferring adoption they wanted the motion completely rescinded so it could be taken through three readings once again.
Vanlife has been a subject of great debate in Squamish, where housing is expensive and in short supply, and living in a vehicle is a possible way to carve out an affordable lifestyle.
On the other hand, critics say vanlifers have been leeching off the tax base while offering nothing in return. Some have complained about noise, nuisance, public defecation and wildfire hazards, among other things.
The municipality used COVID-19 as a justification for revisiting the issue this time around — a similar ban was before council last year — as staff said congregating vanlifers posed a transmission risk during a pandemic.
However, some vanlifers and legal experts have called the ban unconstitutional, as it infringes on Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
More details will be available in this week's edition of The Chief.