One West Coast community is trying a mobile solution to their housing crunch.
During its May 28 regular meeting, Ucluelet council voted to allow the use of recreational vehicle and trailer spaces for seasonal accommodation on two properties.
One applicant received a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) for two long-term seasonal RV camping spaces on his Rainforest Drive property and the second applicant, the owners of Howler’s Restaurant, were granted a TUP for one trailer space located at the rear parking space of their establishment on Peninsula Road.
“We’re thankful this permit has come to fruition. It’s an opportunity for staff housing,” said Howler’s co-owner Amie Shimizu at the meeting.
Her tenant and employee, Lester Poon, has been living in the trailer behind the restaurant for at least two years before the TUP was granted.
Poon moved to Ucluelet from the Lower Mainland in 1995. He said he’s moved so many times since moving to the Coast over the last twenty years. He moved five times in one year, he recalls.
“There’s no housing. I went from camper to camper. I’m sick of moving,” he said.
In a way, said Poon, the TUP gives him some peace of mind.
“I’m getting older. I’m getting ready to retire. I’m 57-years-old. I don’t want to hang out with these young kids that smoke pot all night and stay up and want to jam. I just want to come home, have a beer, eat something and go to sleep. It’s just as simple as that,” he told the Westerly News on his day off.
District of Ucluelet’s manager of community planning Bruce Greig addressed the issue during the meeting.
“It’s a bit of a stopgap. [The TUP] is not intended to be long-term,” said Greig.
Mayor Noel commented on the issue.
“We are actively on the file for long term housing. We are in discussions with two developers and hope to have information come to Council in the near future. It would be inappropriate to say anything more at this time. But, with confidence, I am working to provide new options and I’m not waiting for the province or federal government to solve our problem. The problem is regional,” said Noel via email.
“We all know of trailers being used to house employees,” Noel continued. “Requesting a TUP is a process that encourages safety and compliance in appropriate, short-term locations.”
Coun. Rachelle Cole weighed in on the recent TUP approvals.
“Both situations have specific circumstances which we feel warranted TUP to provide some flexibility to zoning regulations,” she said.
“While providing three seasonal workers accommodation doesn’t solve our housing challenges, it’s a start. We will be considering another request for a TUP for seasonal worker housing for Ucluelet Harbour Seafoods after public comment, likely at our June 25th meeting,” she said.
In the meantime, Poon said he’s happy having his own space behind Howler’s. He enjoys the quiet, and considers himself the ‘night watchman’ for the parking lot. Still he reiterates the West Coast mantra of, “I don’t have a place to live, but I have a job”.
“There needs to be more housing, man. We can get workers, but they have no housing. If they don’t have a place to live they why would they come here to work? They may as well pitch a tent at city hall,” Poon said.