Victoria’s low vacancy rate and increasing rents are pushing some people to find shelter in their vehicles.
Living in a van on a side street across from Starbucks isn’t where Sid thought he’d be in his 60s.
But then he was injured at work a few years back and things changed.
“People think because you are living on the street you must have a drug problem or maybe you are a lush. That’s not true. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter how much you have. It can happen overnight.”
Sid says he uses the money he has for insurance and food.
But he’s worried about how he’ll renew with no street address.
And he’s worried how some people he’s done jobs for would react if they knew he’s homeless.
Stories like Sid’s are what’s leading Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to push for a by-law change.
She says it’s hard to get a solid count on how many people are living in their vehicles because there is such shame and stigma surrounding it, and people don’t want to admit that is the situation they are in.
Last year, the City of Victoria handed out 176 tickets to people found sleeping in their cars, triple the number from 2015.
Helps says the city does not get complaints about people living in their cars so there is no need for a by-law that harms those already struggling.
“They find out of the way places where they’re not going to be seen, where they’re not going to be disruptive and they go to sleep and they go to work or where ever they are going the next morning.”
Right now people can be fined up to $60 for sleeping in their vehicles.
Council will hear the proposal Thursday, and Helps says it could take a couple of months for the change to work its way through to approval.