I read Thomasina Pidgeon’s letter to the editor “End vanlife stigma, Squamish” regarding vanlifers published Dec. 31.
I find it difficult to understand the need to use caustic and aggressive language, and I am sure she doesn’t mean to, but she makes me believe that her intentions are not to achieve a positive outcome for vanlifers but to inflame the situation for her own satisfaction.
To say that all of us including the District of Squamish are “accomplices to this bigotry, resentment and stigma” for example, is somewhat going overboard and is confrontational to the point of possibly creating unrest in our community.
I have spoken to many people about the situation, and I have not heard anyone talk disrespectfully of people who choose to live in vehicles.
What I have heard is acceptance of their choice to do so, and a request that those who do be respectful of other people’s property (the “clean up” initiative was great) and the rules and laws of our society and fairly pay their way in the community for the services they are using.
I don’t know the answer to accommodating this growing way of life, complicated by the “needs” of some and “choice” of others, but I feel that Thomasina, instead of playing the part of the aggressive “activist” and trying to bully council, could try a more positive approach by toning down the rhetoric and working together with the vanlifers and their organization and DOS and the public to find appropriate properties/unused spaces in the District where vanlifers may set up their van-homes.
The concept of “van living” has been around for a long time, unfortunately not always with the support of communities.
So, I think the issue to be addressed here is not resentment to the act of living in a van so much as resentment to how some van-lifers feel that society should cater to them. Playing the part of a bullish activist won’t help to change any resentment and may help to increase it.
DOS has a plan, and the land offered up to help van-lifers in a unique situation, is land ear-marked for other community purposes. I encourage Thomasina to work positively and respectfully with DOS and others to find land available for development as permanent van-lifer residency. Then we can all, vanlifers included, enjoy the community amenities offered.