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Okanagan RV parks face competition from Walmart

Okanagan RV parks face competition from Walmart
WATCH ABOVE: Okanagan RV park operators say there’s an RV tradition in the valley that’s taking a bite out of their business. Kimberly Davidson reports.

A south Okanagan RV park owner is speaking out about a tradition that has been taking a bite out of businesses like his for many years: free overnight parking at a local supercentre.

Harvey Anweiler is part owner of South Beach Gardens RV Park and Campground in Penticton.

Harvey Anweiler is the owner of the South Beach Gardens RV Park and Campground in Penticton.

He says for years, he’s faced tough competition, not from other campsites but from the Walmart parking lot.  Each day, RVs from all over pull in, to take advantage of the free overnight parking.

The RV community has long known about an open door policy at Walmart parking lots. The company’s own website confirms that RV’ers are allowed to stay on Walmart properties overnight if they are given approval by store management and if it does not interfere with other ordinances.

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“It’s hard to compete against free parking,” Anweiler said.

What the RV’ers in the Penticton Walmart parking lot might not realize is that overnight parking does interfere with the City of Penticton’s bylaws.

“Well in terms of our zoning, we don’t allow overnight camping in commercial spaces,” Mayor of Penticton Andrew Jakubeit said.

Jakubeit said the city has received numerous complaints, and plans to take action. Its going to help Walmart install bigger signs indicating the bylaw restrictions; then bylaw officers will start handing out warnings.

“So it’s a little bit of an education process and I think that’s the first step,” Jakubeit said.