Moving to Revelstoke from Ontario has been a series of unfortunate events. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Seeking shelter: Revelstoke newcomers try trailer life

Finding a home is hard, shipping one may be even harder

Moving isn’t easy.

First, it has to be desirable. Is it for work, family, or adventure? Then, the actual move. Are trucks needed, U-Hauls, or is it simply tossing-belongings-into-a-garbage-bag-and-sticking-out-a-thumb-on-a-highway? Finally, there’s the settling. A house, trailer, or apartment? A rental or homeowner? It all depends.

One couple describes their move to Revelstoke as a “nightmare”.

“You could make a movie about it,” says Rob Ward, a newcomer to Revelstoke. Rob Ward, along with his wife Marcie Ward, arrived in Revelstoke several months ago from Ontario.

Like many, the couple moved to be close with family.

“There’s nothing for us in Ontario,” says Marcie. Both are mostly retired, however Rob still builds “really loud sound systems” for stores, such as H&M.

READ MORE: Seeking shelter: Revelstoke mother can’t afford to stay and can’t afford to leave

The couple lived in a five bedroom, three bathroom brick house, paying $1,500 per month plus utilities. They shared it with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild. Last year, the son-in-law got a job with Canadian Pacific in Revelstoke and so he, his wife and child moved. The Wards decided to follow, but it wasn’t easy.

“There is nothing comparable to the house we had here in Revelstoke,” says Marcie.

She scoured the Facebook page Revy Rentals for months, only finding basement suites for the same price as their five-bedroom brick house with a large yard.

“We could do a basement apartment for $1,600. But could we really do that?”

Marcie says her Scottish heritage wouldn’t allow that waste of money. They also saw that prices can fluctuate between summer and winter, even on a yearly lease.

“I’ve never seen that before,” says Marcie. She wonders if it’s even legal.

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, it is.

“Tenants and landlords can include specific terms in the lease agreement, including discounted rent during off-seasons, if both parties agree to it beforehand,” replied the Ministry’s media relations in an email to Black Press.

Finding home

In the end, the Wards decided to buy a destination trailer, which is like a travel trailer but designed to be driven to one spot and parked. They are taller, heavier, and more homelike than most travel trailers. According to one website, they’re designed with the long stays – not long drives – in mind.

The Wards new home (left) in Smokey Bear Campground. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

According to Revelstoke bylaws, you cannot live in a destination trailer within city limits.

“For health purposes,” says Teresa LeRose, manager of legislative services at the City. As there are concerns on sewage and grey water.

They found a trailer in Ontario for almost $13,000.

READ MORE: ‘We’re ruined by this’: B.C. tenants forced to leave closing trailer park

So the couple reduced their possession from a 2,500 square foot home to 350 square feet. They decided what was needed and what wasn’t.

“It’s learning to live with less,” says Marcie.

They loaded the trailer with almost 3,200 pounds worth of possessions, which was the trailer’s weight limit. And got ready to leave, which proved difficult.

Shipping a home to Revelstoke

When the Wards were in Revelstoke last summer, they looked for places to park the trailer. Smokey Bear Campground said they would have space in October, which was when the trailer was expected.

However, October arrived and the campground was still full. The owner said they could park in the overflow lot beside the highway, but there was no water.

The days continued to pass and the light waned, but the destination trailer still hadn’t arrived. The couple began to worry if they’d have time to set it up before old man winter came knocking.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m cursed,” says Marcie. Getting the trailer to Revelstoke was a series of unfortunate events.

Smokey Bear Campground is popular with sledders. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Soon after purchasing, they were told the undercarriage was shot. If they wanted it towed, it needed new brakes, shocks, bearings, springs, and tires.

“They said it wasn’t safe to tow. They said, they could take the undercarriage off and put it on a flatbed and haul it,” says Marcie.

So they contacted a broker to find a flatbed. The first driver arrived and said the trailer was too long.

“He had the measurements! And then he asked where our forklifts were and we were like what forklifts?”

In the end, he drove away and left the trailer behind. Rob spent weeks trying to find another flatbed, but couldn’t. So in defeat, they decided to get the trailer fixed and took it to another mechanic.

“Guess what happened? You won’t believe it. Everything was perfect. Brakes were already done, it had new springs, everything” says Marcie.

Marcie suspects the original company was looking for a load for their flatbed to take back.

“From what I’ve learned, truckers don’t like to go cross country empty.”

That being solved, the couple began looking for someone to tow it. One guy looked promising. Until he emailed them to say his transmission dropped out while driving.

Finally, at the end of November, the trailer arrived. The whole endeavor had cost roughly $7,000.

Smokey Bear Campground was still full, so the trailer was parked several kilometres west of Revelstoke, in a parking lot on the side of Highway 1.

They unpacked, sorted and set up camp. It was a race against the clock before the first big snow.

Home sweet Revelstoke

After a week, the owner of Smokey Bear Campground said they had a permanent spot available. So the Wards moved again.

It’s been a couple months now and the couple say things are starting to fall into place. The trailer is blocked up, the windows covered with plastic for insulation, and home is adorned with personal touches.

This year, they had a much smaller than usual Christmas tree but it was well suited. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

The couple say they love their new home.

“As far as housing goes in Revelstoke if someone was looking to move here and can’t find a place, this is a really good option. ‘Cause, what else do you need? We have power, water, internet, snow removal, garbage, laundry room, you can go up to the office and buy a chocolate bar. They even have a Coke machine,” says Rob happily.

As we chat there’s the frequent rumble of snowmobiles. The Wards say they’re still getting use to them, but they’re preferable to the sound of passing trucks at their last spot beside the highway.

The couple pay $765 per month for pad rent, which includes utilities.

While the move was difficult, they say it was worth it.

“I think it’s been more worth it because of the struggles,” says Rob. While it did cost $7,000 to ship, the couple used it to ship all their belongings. A U-Haul would have cost roughly the same.

Newcomers

Although it’s difficult to find housing, which in a way adds a level of unwelcomeness, the couple say they are impressed with the community.

“People smile here. In Ontario, people don’t really talk to their neighbours,” says Marcie. The couple want to become involved in the community, such as volunteering at the food bank.

The Wards and Bella. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

“Those organizations are very important, you never know how close you can be to needing help,” says Rob.

While the couple love their home, they expect to eventually move. Again.

“Our intent isn’t to stay in this trailer for the rest of our lives,” says Rob. However, it works for now. One nagging thought for the couple is they keep wondering how other newcomers handle the housing shortage.

“There aren’t a lot of empty lots here. This was the last one. Now, where will someone else go?”

Perhaps the parking lot beside Highway 1 is still available.

READ MORE: Seeking shelter: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Last year, the Revelstoke Review called out for people to share their stories on housing. We got flooded with responses. As a result, the Review will write a series of testimonials and stories that aim to shine a light on what it’s like to seek shelter and live in Revelstoke. If you’re a tenant or a landlord and would like to share your story, please contact us at liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

 

The destination trailer has a fully equipped kitchen. The stove runs off propane. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

The Wards new home (left) in Smokey Bear Campground. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review Smokey Bear Campground is popular with sledders.

Smokey Bear Campground is roughly eight kilometres west of Revelstoke along Highway 1. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review) Smokey Bear Campground is roughly eight kilometres west of Revelstoke along Highway 1. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

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