Vancouver’s real estate circus is driving even decently paid tradespeople to live in illegal encampments. So far, the city is turning a blind eye.
Kevin Royes lives the Vancouver real estate economy. At the end of a long day landscaping at a newly-built 18,000-square-foot mansion in West Vancouver, he catches a ride home to his 1973 Dodge Sportsman in a pop-up RV park tucked away in an East Vancouver industrial area.
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He is one of a number of construction industry workers illegally camped within sight of downtown high-rises, which on a sunny afternoon gleam in the distance like unattainable beacons of wealth.
There are about 20 inhabited vehicles parked beneath the Skytrain line near Glen Drive. But in Vancouver and North Vancouver, where rents are among Canada’s highest and vacancy rates less than one percent, there are at least seven other pockets where people live full-time in vehicles tucked behind shopping malls or big box stores. Some, like Royes and Mike Diddy, whose home is a converted school bus, are employed in the region’s booming construction trade. Others are engaged in less savoury lines of work and others still are pensioners down on their luck.