Connect with us


He sleeps in a van but drives a Tesla: life on wheels in Vancouver’s camper community



van but drives a Tesla

At the end of his day, Lucas Philips drives to his home overlooking Spanish Banks Beach in Vancouver, near some of the most expensive real estate in Canada.

He climbs out of his black Tesla and soaks up what he calls his “million-dollar view.”

But Philips is no wealthy property owner. His home is a Vanguard campervan berthed in a beachside parking lot.

He spends most of his life on wheels, working as an Uber driver in his leased Tesla. He’s trying to get ahead, and lives in his “sweet motor home” while taking online courses in the hope of getting a job in computer science.


Philips, who immigrated from Turkey five years ago, thinks himself lucky to share the view with mansion owners without draining his savings.

He’s a member of a community of Vancouverites living in vans, trailers and other recreational vehicles parked across the city.

Some, like Philips, use it as an economic strategy to cut costs as they plot a course to prosperity.

Others have opted for a nomadic lifestyle, and plan to move on.

But more people are sleeping in vehicles as a last resort, as they try to stave off full-blown homelessness in the notoriously expensive city.

Philips said in an interview in November that he used to pay monthly rent of $1,600 for a one-bedroom suite in North Vancouver. When his rent went up to $2,300, he decided it didn’t make sense.

“The rent prices are just skyrocketing and it’s really feeling not that great when you pay for rent with half of your income,” he said.

So, he bought a van and started living at Spanish Banks in October. Side benefits to the savings were that it made him feel closer to nature, and he enjoyed the van community’s friendly vibe.

He said he hoped to move back into an apartment this year to better focus on his studies.

However, others have embraced life on wheels.

Retired Californian mechanical engineer Alex Mosson, 58, was parked last week at Spanish Banks in a beige recreational vehicle he called his “tiny house.”

He offered wine from a rack as he prepared a pot of clam chowder, with bacon and sourdough bread fresh out of the oven.

Newly arrived in Canada, he was joined by girlfriend Massie McCloud, 52, a retired airline pilot who lives in Kitsilano. They were planning to spend a few more nights in Vancouver, then Whistler, then head for Mexico, where Mosson used to live. In March, they plan to return for a cross-Canada journey, said McCloud.

“Don’t get other people jealous,” interjected Mosson.

McCloud likened the RV to “a giant backpack.”

“You have all your things with you,” she said. “Part of the reason we are both excited about doing this trip is that we both had really confined lives for the last several years,” said McCloud, who added that she is recovering from long COVID.

But not everyone on wheels has a choice.

Over several visits to Spanish Banks, many residents appeared to be living out of cars and pickups, ill-equipped for the purpose.

Their windows were screened with makeshift curtains for privacy, their back seats and truck beds packed with possessions.

The residents approached in these situations were more cautious.

November rain dripped off the face of one man as he made repairs to his white box truck, strewn in black graffiti. He declined to give his name for an interview, saying he found his circumstances humiliating.

Dean Kurpjuweit, president of Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission said vans and trailers have become a way for some working people to stay in the city amid high conventional housing costs.

But the mission “will never advocate for living in vans as an alternative housing solution,” he said.

“We buy trailers to go on vacations. … But nobody wants to permanently (live there),” he said.

Kurpjuweit said his group had helped people move from recreational vehicles into supportive housing.

He said there is a difference between the “wilderness experience” of an RV, compared with cramped and inconvenient long-term life in the city.

Living for an extended period in a trailer in Vancouver is mostly due to the “reality of the housing market here,” said Kurpjuweit.

Local residents said in summer and early fall that hundreds of people were living in vehicles at Spanish Banks. Dozens were still there in the fall, even after the City of Vancouver started warning people to move on, although their numbers dwindled with the onset of winter.

There are other campers in less scenic locations, clustered near big-box stores or scattered on quiet side streets.

Keith Light, 76, used to own a home on Pender Island, a 40-minute ferry ride to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. But for more than half a year he’s lived in a recreational vehicle, now parked outside an east Vancouver Canadian Tire store.

In 2021, Light sold his island home to pay off debts. He said this week that it wasn’t until he’d relocated to Metro Vancouver that he realized housing costs were “ten times higher” than on Pender.

He lived with a friend, who got “a little tired” of his presence after about a year, and he moved out in May.

“So, I got online and found this R.V. I got a pretty good deal on it, and it cost me $19,000,” said Light, who lives on a monthly pension of $1,900.

He said it was comfortable but not a permanent solution.

For one thing, the van has no electricity. Light said two external generators had been stolen and the vehicle’s built-in generator didn’t work.

There’s also a sense of insecurity faced by most vehicle dwellers.

It’s illegal to park a large vehicle on the street or in parks in Vancouver between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., including at Spanish Banks, although exceptions apply.

Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Eva Cook said in a statement that illegally parked RVs remain a “challenging issue” in many communities.

Since October, 47 notices reminding owners of parking rules were issued and most vehicles parked overnight at Spanish Banks had moved, she said.

Cook said it was still working to “educate” users that overnight parking isn’t allowed in parks.

Paul Kershaw, a policy professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of population, said many people living in vans are “just as smart and as hard-working” as homeowners.

But some have been born too late and are now locked out of Vancouver’s real estate market or are facing prohibitive rent on even a one-bedroom apartment.

Vancouver remains the most expensive place to rent in Canada, with the average price of a one-bedroom apartment now going for $2,633 per month, according to the National Rental Report issued last month.

Saving up for a home is also out of reach for many.

“In the mid-’70s, it took the typical young person five years of full-time work to save a 20 per cent down payment on an average-priced home. Now it takes 17 years,” said Kershaw.

Jenny Tan, a city councillor in Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver, is all too familiar with the region’s high housing costs.

She used to live in Vancouver’s West End in a trailer, an experience that compelled her to get into politics to try to make things “a little more affordable.”

“I will be super honest, if I had a choice, I wouldn’t be doing it for fun,” she said.

She lived in her trailer for three years as “cheerfully and optimistically” as she could, equipping it with a projector and hosting board games with friends.

“But look, I wouldn’t have chosen that if there was a one-bedroom apartment that I could rent somewhere,” said Tan.

She said she ended up in a trailer in 2017 after doing “all the right things in life” by graduating from university and landing a decent job.

With money tight, living in her trailer was better than paying rent. But the downsides outweighed any sense of fun.

“Living in a trailer, you are constantly in fear, stressed about losing your spot, about the bylaw officers,” she said. “For the years I lived in my trailer, I had no hot running water.”

Tan eventually moved into her parents’ house and considered her trailer life a learning experience. “But it was not the thing I would have chosen,” said Tan.

In east Vancouver, Light agrees.

Living in an RV is better than sleeping on the street, but what he really wants is a permanent home.

He said a renter should have to pay no more than 30 per cent of their income to put a roof over their head.

“I’m really, really hoping that I can get a bachelor suite or one-bedroom in one of these subsidized housing units in Vancouver,” said Light.

He said he spent a year on the waiting list with BC Housing.

“But unfortunately, the only way the places come up are basically when somebody dies. And that’s pretty bad. That’s also a sad thing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


UPEI students offered $1,500 to leave residence during Canada Games –



Some UPEI students are earning extra money during the mid-semester break this year, simply by packing up and leaving campus. 

The 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society offered $1,500 each to students living in Andrew Hall if they give up their residence rooms to make space for arriving athletes. 

The students have to leave a few days before the break starts, on Feb. 17, and can return March 7. They also had to give up their meal plan for the duration.


Many athletes are staying at UPEI’s new 260-bed residence, built to meet accommodation requirements for the Games’ temporary athlete village.

But Wayne Carew, chair of the Games, said there are 120 more athletes coming than originally planned. 

A portrait of a man standing outside, wearing a jacket with the Canada Winter Games logo.
Organizers want the athletes all to stay on the UPEI campus so they can have ‘the experience of a lifetime,’ says Wayne Carew, chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“We ended up getting 44 rooms [in Andrew Hall] and that’s great,” said Carew.

He said the athletes staying at UPEI “are going to have a wild experience on the campus of the beautiful University of Prince Edward Island.” 

Carew said the costs of doing this are a “lot cheaper” than arranging accommodations elsewhere. But he said the main reason is to provide all athletes the same, “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

“Where they live, the food and the camaraderie and the experience of a lifetime: that’s what they’ll remember in 20 years’ time about P.E.I.,” he said.

‘Pretty good deal’

Some students were eager to take the organizers up on their offer.

“I’m going away to Florida during the two-week break anyways. So I was like, ‘May as well let them use my room then,'” said Hannah Somers. 

Portrait of a man in a toque and a grey sweater standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Benji Dueck is moving in with a friend during the Canada Games so he can get the $1,500 offer. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“It’s $1,500. Pretty nice,” said Benji Dueck, who agreed to vacate the room with his roommate.  “We’re moving out, living with a friend in the city. So, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.”

As part of the agreement, the students had to clear out their rooms. Canada Games organizers made arrangements so students could store their belongings.

But not all students thought it was a good deal.

Portrait of a woman in a black down jacket standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Maria de Torres won’t be leaving residence during the Canada Games. ‘It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic,’ she says. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“I’m not giving up my spot in Andrew Hall for $1,500,” said Maria de Torres. “It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic. And since I’m an international student, I got a lot [of things] right now.”

Shelby Dyment is also staying in Andrew Hall. Dyment said she and her roommate are working as residence life assistants during the mid-semester break and she’s also doing directed study, so she has to stay on campus.

“There’s a lot of people doing it. It’s just for our situation it just wasn’t working for what we were doing,” she said.

In a statement, UPEI said that enough students had accepted the offer to host all the athletes. 

It said the host society made all the arrangements with the students, including paying for their incentives and arranging for storage.

Organizers expect about 3,600 athletes, coaches and officials to participate in the Games. The event will run from Feb. 18 to March 5.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


Germany won't be a 'party to the war' amid tanks exports to Ukraine: Ambassador – CTV News



The German ambassador to Canada says Germany will not become “a party to the conflict” in Ukraine, despite it and several other countries announcing they’ll answer President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pleas for tanks, possibly increasing the risk of Russian escalation.

Sabine Sparwasser said it’s a “real priority” for Germany to support Ukraine, but that it’s important to be in “lockstep” coordination with other allied countries.

“There is a clear line for Germany,” she told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “We do want not want to be a party to the conflict.”


“We want to support, we want to do everything we can, but we, and NATO, do not want to be a party to the war,” she also said. “That’s I think, the line we’re trying to follow.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand announced this week Canada will send four Leopard 2 battle tanks — with the possibility of more in the future — to Ukraine, along with Canadian Armed Forces members to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to use them.

Canada first needed permission from Berlin to re-export any of its 82 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. After a meeting of 50 defence leaders in Germany earlier this month, it was unclear whether Germany would give the green light.

But following what German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called “intensive consultations,” Germany announced on Jan. 25 it would send tanks to Ukraine, and the following day, Canada followed suit. It is now joining several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Poland, which are sending several dozen tanks to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week the tanks would allow Ukraine to “significantly strengthen their combat capabilities.”

“It demonstrates also the unit and the resolve of NATO allies in partners in providing support to Ukraine,” he said.

Meanwhile Sparwasser said Germany is “walking that fine line” of avoiding steps that could prompt escalation from Russia, while supporting Ukraine, and staying out of the war themselves.

“I think it’s very important to see that Germany is very determined and has a real priority in supporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty,” Sparwasser said. “But we also put a high priority on going it together with our friends and allies.”

Sparwasser said despite warnings from Russia that sending tanks to Ukraine will cause an escalation, Germany is within international law — specifically Article 51 of the United Nations Charter — to provide support to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is under attack has the right to self defence, and other nations can come in and provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself,” Sparwasser said. “So in international law terms, this is a very clear cut case.”

She added that considering “Russia doesn’t respect international law,” it’s a more impactful deterrent to Russia, ahead of an expected spring offensive, to see several countries come together in support of Ukraine.

With files from the Associated Press

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


COVID: Canada retaining Evusheld – CTV News



While Health Canada says it is “aware” of the U.S. decision to withdraw the emergency use of Evusheld, a drug by AstraZeneca used to help prevent COVID-19 infection— the agency is maintaining its approval, citing the differences in variant circulation between Canada and the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Jan. 26 that its emergency use authorization of the drug was pulled due to its inefficacy in treating “certain” COVID-19 variants.

The FDA stated in a release on its website that as the XBB.1.5. variant, nicknamed “Kraken”, is making up the majority of cases in the country, the use of Evusheld is “not expected to provide protection” and therefore not worth exposing the public to possible side effects of the drug, like allergic reactions.


In an email to, Health Canada said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled the drug as the main variant of concern in the U.S. is XBB.1.5.

“Dominant variants in the [U.S.] may be different from those circulating in Canada,” the federal agency said in an email. “The most recent epidemiological data in Canada (as of January 1, 2023) indicate that BA.5 (Omicron) subvariants continue to account for more than 89 per cent of reported cases.”

On Jan. 6 the FDA said in press release that certain variants are not neutralized by Evusheld and cautioned people who are exposed to XBB.1.5. On Jan. 26, the FDA then updated its website by saying it would be limiting the use of Evusheld.

“Evusheld is not currently authorized for use in the U.S. until further notice by the Agency,” the FDA website states.

On Jan. 17, Health Canada issued a “risk communication” on Evusheld, explaining how it may not be effective against certain Omicron subvariants when used as a preventative measure or treatment for COVID-19.

“Decisions regarding the use of EVUSHELD should take into consideration what is known about the characteristics of the circulating COVID-19 variants, including geographical prevalence and individual exposure,” Health Canada said in an email.

Health Canada says Evusheld does neutralize against Omicron subvariant BA.2, which according to the agency, is the dominant variant in many communities in Canada.

The drug was introduced for prevention measures specifically for people who have weaker immune systems and are unlikely to be protected by a COVID-19 vaccine. It can only be given to people 12 years and older.

“EVUSHELD is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended,” the agency’s website reads.

Health Canada says no drug, including Evusheld, is a substitute for vaccination.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading