Mayor Seeks End to British Columbia Campground Dispute
Mayor Larry Jangula would like to see a legal situation resolved between the city of Courtenay, British Columbia, and the owners of the Maple Pool Campground and RV Site.
Campsite owners Dali and Jin Lin operate a low-rent, Community Living Project for 54 tenants, some of whom had been homeless before moving onto the site. The city, however, said zoning does not allow the couple to house people on the property, which sits in a floodplain, the Comox Valley Record reported.
Which means the tenants could be facing eviction.
"I want to work with trying to resolve this thing," Jangula said. "I've been very public about that and I intend to stay public. I'm not changing my mind on that one. "It's all about zoning. My concern is that these people have been allowed to operate for over 30 years under that zoning."
He notes, however, that a flooding incident in 2009 prompted the city to say zoning does not comply and tenancy should not be allowed on a year-round basis.
"What they're doing there is a positive thing," Jangula said of the Lins' project, which offers weekly meals and clothing along with affordable accommodation.
He balks at the idea that the couple are "slum landlords," as some have suggested.
"I've never heard of a slum landlord who lives with people they're renting to, who feeds tenants on a regular basis. When you see the respect and the joy that those tenants have when they see the Lins, that said it all," said Jangula, who attended a going-away party for a longtime tenant who moved into the Case Loma retirement community across the street from Maple Pool on Headquarters Road.
"I call it (Maple Pool) a little community. They all know each other. I don't mean everybody gets along in wonderful peace and harmony, but it's like a small village. It's like a village in the forest."
He notes a Maple Pool resident who had lived in the woods 10 years. This man in turn encouraged another person who had spent five years in the woods to live at the campsite.
"That's something we can't even do through all of our social service agencies," Jangula said.
The opponents, he added, want to house homeless people in expensive facilities that would cost taxpayers millions, but would likely not yield the same results as the Community Living Project.
"Because you can't force people to do things," Jangula said. "You can't force people to change their lifestyle, you can't force people to live in a housing shelter because the government says so. You have to remember that these are very, very much independent people."