Travis Britton stands in a forested area off Partridge Drive, where a rock path leads to a sign with the word “Fort” on it at the entrance to an area that formerly housed a fort he built with his friend and neighbour, Trent. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Okanagan teens get eviction notice in forest fort

The fort, likely mistaken for a homeless camp, was in its spot for a year before the notice came

His parents told him he would be evicted, albeit jokingly.

Last spring break, 14-year-old Travis Britton and his friend and neighbour, Trent, built a fort of tarps, rope and random pieces of wood they were able to scrounge up, entrenched in the woods surrounding Partridge Drive in the Wiltse area.

“Every day we would come up here and add something new. So, maybe a few weeks (to build it),” Travis said. “We wanted to get out of the house and just hang out.”

Travis’s mother, Janice, added the parents were supportive of the fort, which sat behind an undeveloped parcel of land with a for sale sign in front, about two spots down from the Brittons’ place.

“We liked where it was because it was close enough that we could see them, but it was far enough away that they felt like they were really out on their own,” she said. “They loved that goofy fort, and there’s a river running through it, now. But they plan to rebuild.”

But what was once a roughly 30-square-foot forest sanctuary for Travis and Trent is now a pile of debris at the side of Travis’s house, after the duo arrived at the fort last week to an eviction notice from the City of Penticton.

The city bylaw notice pointed to the Park Regulation Bylaw, which prohibits setting up or occupying temporary shelters in Penticton parkland, and even goes as far as prohibiting depositing or carrying camping equipment into parks.

“We just saw it and said ‘oh well, gotta take it down, I guess,’” he said. “We worked really hard on it.”

But in all, Travis said he wasn’t too annoyed by it, suggesting they would rebuild on his parents’ property.

“We laughed really hard. Our parents always joke about us getting evicted because we say this is our house,” Travis said.

“And then it actually happened.”

Janice said she also had a good laugh about the eviction — in fact, she had difficulty containing her laughter in an interview with the Western News.

“It was kind of the running joke that our neighbour across the street asked us if it was from our kids or if it was a homeless camp, and I said ‘no, it’s the boys being boys,’” she said.

“I thought it was funny, just because I just assumed no one would bother us in the middle of nowhere up there. But just kind of cracked me up that someone actually took the time to write an eviction notice and put it in his own little fort.”

But she said she understood city bylaw had to take complaints seriously, and someone likely confused it for a homeless camp.

In all, what took weeks to build, adding to the fort here and there over time, took about an hour to take down and four or five trips to transport all the debris to the side of his house.

As a tip to future fort builders, Travis suggested they take their time to make it sturdy, noting it fell a couple of times, though it didn’t take long to repair each time.

“Not long. That’s why it kept breaking. Because we didn’t spend much time repairing,” he said.

But beyond that, he had one more piece of advice:

“Build it where no one would complain about it.”

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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