PIB man offering cheap campsites during housing crisis

Even a local nonprofit made use of a few spots at Lavern Jack’s campground this summer

Lavern Jack is living up to his Syilx name, Somtitsa — a word he said means “very nice man.”

As families struggle to find appropriate and affordable housing, Jack has been offering spaces at his campsite on Penticton Indian Band land for monthly deals.

Jack said he had several people come to him this summer looking for a place to stay.

Related: City must ‘atone’ for its part in housing crisis: city planner

“All through the summer, I had quite a few. A lot of them wanted to camp here to wait until the winter rate went down, so they could find something affordable,” Jack said. “Most of the stuff all through the summer was like $800-900 for a one bedroom, and then it went up from there, and they couldn’t afford that.”

Among those looking for a spot, he said the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society has used his campsite for three or four people — including one group of two and one single person — while they searched for something more permanent.

“The last person that they brought to me, they got him a place to stay, and then they said, if we need your help, we’ll come and we’ll bring somebody out,” he said.

He said SOSBIS was paying the rent for those people.

Related: The people of Carmi hill

Jack typically only offers a daily rate, but he said people couldn’t afford to spend a full month at his daily rate.

“So I said, this is what I’ll do for you: I’ll do it by the month,” he said.

Jack said this is the first year he’s seen people coming to him as a solution — temporary or otherwise — for their housing issues.

“It never came up in the past; it just came up this year,” he said. “The other campgrounds, during the summer, they charge by the day, and there’s no monthly rental.”

Jack said one couple is still living on the campground, as they still haven’t managed to find a place.

“They might stay all winter, because they can’t afford to rent any houses, because the housing, the lowest one was $1,700 a month,” he said, referring to a two-bedroom rate.

In the past week, the Western News has spoken to two families who have had to camp out in the past, or continue to camp out in lieu of a bricks and mortar home. One of those families is still camping out in the Carmi hill area, while another family has found a home in Peachland.

In fact, the latter family said they camped out at Jack’s campground along Green Mountain Road, about a kilometre from the Okanagan River Channel.

Related: Moving forward from Highland Motel fire

Jack said he remembered Penny Brown-Alvord, who spoke earlier this week about her experience looking for housing. He said he rented the family an RV spot for their trailer and tent.

“They got sewer, water, washrooms, free Wi-Fi, free water, washrooms and 24-hour security,” Jack said, noting he also runs XR Homeland Security.

But Brown-Alvord wasn’t the only family to take advantage of his campground.

“There were some ladies from Saskatchewan that were working out here and they didn’t have no place to stay, they couldn’t afford nothing,” Jack said. “They rented by the month, $400 a month for their tents.”

Related: Super 8 getting more than social housing

Jack said he was trying to live up to the name his father gave him, Somtitsa, adding that he was happy to help people who were in need, because he felt that would come back around to him.

In fact, one couple who rented from him said he didn’t know what to do with it. Though it was in need of a fix-up, Jack said he was happy to renovate it and rent it out next summer.

“People come here sometimes without tents,” he said. “I have about three or four tents. I just say, ‘well, here. I’ll loan you a tent, you pay me the rent.’”

Related: Super 8 social housing gets easy pass in public hearing


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hundreds turn out for Singh, NDP candidate rally in Penticton

The messaging was clear, NDP “chooses you”

Thrash Wrestling hosts All the Rage international match tonight

Local wrestlers take on stars of Doutonbori Pro Wrestling from Osaka, Japan.

Penticton local looking to go pro in kickboxing in 2020

The sport will become officially legal in B.C. in just over two months

Vees fall to Vipers in overtime at the SOEC

Penticton takes on Nanaimo tonight in their double header home game weekend

Summerland holds multiple events to launch festive season

Festival of Lights, Light Up the Vines and Sip ’n’ Shop will be held in late November and December

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Letter: Candidates and social issues

Reader feels only Cannings and NDP have plans for social issues

PET OF THE WEEK: Moose still needs a home

Critteraid cat wants a nice, quiet environment

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Most Read