Western Canada’s high living cost is pushing people to live in vehicles

By: Lisa Coxon on May 31, 2019

The high cost of living in Canmore, Alta., and Vancouver has pushed some residents to start living out of RVs, vans, and trailers.

Neither city or town is pleased, either, because these vehicles are parked on city property. As a result, officials have started to crack down on these dwellers by enforcing no-parking zones and issuing tickets.

Canmore’s town council will bring in a “no parking zone” between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. starting at the end of May.

“It’s only two hours,” Canmore Mayor John Borrowman told CTV News Alberta. “But that will force anybody who is staying through the night ... to pack everything up and drive away.”

The City of Vancouver isn’t ticketing people, but it will enforce parking regulations as well.

The situation has upset some business owners in East Vancouver, who say that the dwellers are accumulating garbage, attracting pests to the area, and creating safety hazards.

“We find extension cords across roads that some of our retailers have tripped on,” John Knapton, a clothing store owner in the area, told CBC News. “We've had to bring in pest control because of rodents.”

In Vancouver, you need an income of at least $200,000 to afford a home at the city’s average price of $1.1 million. A one-bedroom apartment averages $2,096/month.

In Canmore, Alta., CTV News Alberta reports that homes cost about $700,000 on average, and rooms go for as much as $1,000 a month.

It’s notable that these prices are considered high enough to push people to live inside their vehicles, when the cost of living in Toronto is even higher, where the average cost of a home is just shy of $800,000, and the average cost to rent a one-bedroom condo cleared the $2,000 a month mark last October.

In Canmore, there are an estimated 100 people living inside RVs, vans, and trailers on city property.

In Metro Vancouver, there are an estimated 58, including 17 in Vancouver. CTV News Alberta reported that for the first time in 2017, Vancouver is including these vehicle dwellers in its homeless count.

“I'd like to see them clean it up,” Knapton told CBC News. “I'd like to see them find a place for these people.”

Both Vancouver and Canmore, Alta., are arranging for homeless outreach teams to visit the areas and try to connect people with housing.