VANCOUVER (CityNews) – A homeless Vancouver man fighting cancer is desperately searching for a place to park his RV.
As he battles his illness and fights to find somewhere to live during his treatment, Don Sewell worries about how long he’ll be able to afford the parking tickets he’s being slapped with.
“You keep getting them every day. You get four, five tickets, there’s a couple of hundred bucks and in my situation, I just can’t afford it,” Sewell tells CityNews Vancouver.
He never thought moving into his RV would be a permanent situation. After a motorcycle accident a few years ago, he was no longer able to work. That’s when he decided he’d give up the home he was renting at the time and move into the vehicle until he recovered.
But that’s when he found out he had cancer.
“I’ll end up in the hospital for two weeks, two and a half weeks. And if I keep getting tickets, my biggest fear is coming out of the hospital my vehicle or home won’t be there.”
"If I keep getting tickets my biggest fear is coming out of the hospital my home won't be there." https://t.co/nR3xh6iX0W
— Ashley Grace Burr (@AshleyBurr_) August 31, 2020
So far, Sewell says he’s received about five tickets from the City of Vancouver.
In March, the city announced drivers could park in metered spots for free as it temporarily suspended most enforcement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although that is no longer the case and parking enforcement has resumed, Sewell wonders why some leniency can’t also be given to people in situations like his.
“We all figured if the city was to give us a lot or rent us a spot, it would create a job. It would bring income to the city, because they keep complaining we’re short of money. It’s not a big fortune that they would make, but it’s something,” Sewell explains.
In a statement addressing Sewell’s situation, the City of Vancouver says it’s not its policy to ticket people living in vehicles.
“However, illegally parked vehicles are subject to the street and traffic bylaws…”
According to the city’s website, there is a three hour parking rule. That means anyone who parks on a street where there is no signage is susceptible to getting a ticket if they stay there for more than three hours.
“It is very heartbreaking for someone who is experiencing multiple crises just on top of one another back to back,” Nicole Mucci with the Union Gospel Mission says.
“He is struggling with major health care, he is struggling with very precarious and hidden homelessness, and he’s struggling with the pandemic. And so, while we hope that he can find a short-term solution and that this news story does help him do that, we also know that the long-term solution is more housing.”
Sewell’s not sure what the answer is but hopes the city might be able to provide some kind of solution.
“Offer a lot. They’ve got places up by the ports, they’ve got where they’ve torn down, like here at London Drugs. Instead of sitting there vacant, you could help out five, six people in RVs. As long as they’re clean, they don’t look like something that should be put to sleep, and the people are clean, hey?”