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District of Squamish says it will not enforce camping ban on Walmart parking lot

Walmart posted signs implying the municipality had banned overnight parking on the company's parking lot. They were wrong.

If Walmart wants the overnight sprinter vans, cars, trucks and RVs gone from its parking lot, the company will have to remove them itself.

The District is distancing itself from Walmart's signage that said the municipality had banned overnight parking on the company's private lot.

In late July, signs were posted all over the parking lot and in the store. They stated that no camping or overnight parking was permitted as a result of District of Squamish bylaws. The warnings also announced that vehicles would be towed at their owners' expense.

This gave the impression to some that the District would be enforcing its camping ban on Walmart property.

On July 26, the District's elected officials and staff discussed the matter in a council meeting.

"Staff have investigated this matter further and found that neither the zoning bylaw nor the camping bylaw apply in this situation, and neither would be enforced as the signage indicates," said Megan Latimer, the director of public safety at the District.

"The District zoning bylaw is not applicable or enforceable on this point, and the camping bylaw applies to public lands and does not include camping or parking on private lands. Therefore, no bylaw enforcement will take place in this situation."

Latimer said if Walmart wishes to remove vehicles from its private parking lot, that will be done at its own expense.

As a follow-up to this case, she said, the District's manager of bylaw services is in conversation with Walmart management to make clear that the company's parking lot is private land, and, therefore, outside of the District's camping bylaw regulations.

"No District resources will be put towards enforcement as the signage indicates," Latimer said.

When asked about the matter, Walmart's corporate communications division said they had received The Squamish Chief's request, but the company did not issue any comment by press deadline.

When The Squamish Chief was at the local Walmart parking lot during the early evening of Aug. 2, all signage threatening municipal enforcement was gone.

A couple of people living in vehicles spoke on the matter.

One said he'd been living in the parking lot for three weeks, the other said he'd just arrived.

Both said they had previously seen the signage, but hadn't encountered any difficulty in keeping their vehicle in the parking lot.

The District also issued a written statement to The Squamish Chief on this point.

"Private property is not regulated under the District's Camping Bylaw, and any removal of vehicles from private land would be the decision and responsibility of the property owner," wrote spokesperson Rachel Boguski.