PIB man offering cheap campsites during housing crisis

Even a local nonprofit made use of a few spots at Lavern Jack’s campground this summer

Lavern Jack is living up to his Syilx name, Somtitsa — a word he said means “very nice man.”

As families struggle to find appropriate and affordable housing, Jack has been offering spaces at his campsite on Penticton Indian Band land for monthly deals.

Jack said he had several people come to him this summer looking for a place to stay.

Related: City must ‘atone’ for its part in housing crisis: city planner

“All through the summer, I had quite a few. A lot of them wanted to camp here to wait until the winter rate went down, so they could find something affordable,” Jack said. “Most of the stuff all through the summer was like $800-900 for a one bedroom, and then it went up from there, and they couldn’t afford that.”

Among those looking for a spot, he said the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society has used his campsite for three or four people — including one group of two and one single person — while they searched for something more permanent.

“The last person that they brought to me, they got him a place to stay, and then they said, if we need your help, we’ll come and we’ll bring somebody out,” he said.

He said SOSBIS was paying the rent for those people.

Related: The people of Carmi hill

Jack typically only offers a daily rate, but he said people couldn’t afford to spend a full month at his daily rate.

“So I said, this is what I’ll do for you: I’ll do it by the month,” he said.

Jack said this is the first year he’s seen people coming to him as a solution — temporary or otherwise — for their housing issues.

“It never came up in the past; it just came up this year,” he said. “The other campgrounds, during the summer, they charge by the day, and there’s no monthly rental.”

Jack said one couple is still living on the campground, as they still haven’t managed to find a place.

“They might stay all winter, because they can’t afford to rent any houses, because the housing, the lowest one was $1,700 a month,” he said, referring to a two-bedroom rate.

In the past week, the Western News has spoken to two families who have had to camp out in the past, or continue to camp out in lieu of a bricks and mortar home. One of those families is still camping out in the Carmi hill area, while another family has found a home in Peachland.

In fact, the latter family said they camped out at Jack’s campground along Green Mountain Road, about a kilometre from the Okanagan River Channel.

Related: Moving forward from Highland Motel fire

Jack said he remembered Penny Brown-Alvord, who spoke earlier this week about her experience looking for housing. He said he rented the family an RV spot for their trailer and tent.

“They got sewer, water, washrooms, free Wi-Fi, free water, washrooms and 24-hour security,” Jack said, noting he also runs XR Homeland Security.

But Brown-Alvord wasn’t the only family to take advantage of his campground.

“There were some ladies from Saskatchewan that were working out here and they didn’t have no place to stay, they couldn’t afford nothing,” Jack said. “They rented by the month, $400 a month for their tents.”

Related: Super 8 getting more than social housing

Jack said he was trying to live up to the name his father gave him, Somtitsa, adding that he was happy to help people who were in need, because he felt that would come back around to him.

In fact, one couple who rented from him said he didn’t know what to do with it. Though it was in need of a fix-up, Jack said he was happy to renovate it and rent it out next summer.

“People come here sometimes without tents,” he said. “I have about three or four tents. I just say, ‘well, here. I’ll loan you a tent, you pay me the rent.’”

Related: Super 8 social housing gets easy pass in public hearing



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Protect the Water rally today in Kelowna

The rally will be held at No. 102 – 1420 St Paul Street, Kelowna.

Jury finds Chad Alphonse guilty of manslaughter in murder trial

Kelowna jury delivers its verdict a day after starting its deliberations.

Heavy rain causes flooding in the Central Okanagan

Portion of lower Glenrosa Road closed due to flooding

Feature Friday: Is the sky the limit for downtown Kelowna construction?

City building up, not out, as high rise living becomes more popular

Free theatre performance for Lake Country families

Robinson Crusoe + Friday will be performed at Creekside Theatre April 14

Your March 23 Morning Brief

Check out the top stories of the day in the Okanagan-Shuswap with Carmen Weld’s Black Press Morning Brief.

BCHL Today: Prince George avoids elimination with game five win

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong B.C. ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

Uber self-driving crash video calls safety, rules into question

Experts say footage shows that vehicle’s sensors should have spotted pedestrian, initiated braking

Daily rainfall records set in the Okanagan

Penticton and Summerland were hit the hardest in the Okanagan with rainfall

Van search connected to bear spray incident

Suspected clandestine lab involved in brazen robbery near Vernon

Body found on Blind Bay Beach

Police and coroner investigating, foul play not suspected

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Greens’ Elizabeth May, NDP’s Kennedy Stewart join B.C. anti-pipeline protest

The two politicians could be arrested for violating a court injunction

Most Read