KAMLOOPS — For anyone without a home, winter is especially a tough time. Many on the streets have nowhere to go but the shelters have just opened in the last week.
But for Eric Redekop, he's content with where he is - not on the streets, but in his van, which contains his life's possessions.
"For some people it's just a vehicle. But for me, it's my home," he said. "If I didn't have that to sleep in, I'd have nowhere to sleep indoors."
The City of Kamloops has reached out to Redekop, encouraging him to stay at the new winter shelter at the old Stuart Wood.
"What we need to do is make sure the person's safe," said Kamloops bylaw manager John Ramsey. "The concern that we have with people sleeping in their vehicle, in this cold weather, it's a possibility they could die. So we offer assistance to them and the support they need."
But Redekop has turned down the support, not liking the environment at the shelters. The former teacher who has some savings left from his career says he would rather drive around the city, enjoying all the public spaces, mostly McArthur Island, his favourite spot.
Bylaw officers know him and his funky van. But Redekop thinks about others who are in a similar situation.
"They've left me alone, but I hear stories from other people that haven't been left alone," noted Redekop. "I don't really think they've changed their tune very much at City Hall. I'd like them to extend this generosity to everybody in my situation."
Ramsey says as long as the person and vehicle is identified, it's ok.
"If the person is sleeping in their vehicle and they're parking in the parking lot, they need to self-identify themselves," he said. "We can offer assistance to them, and if they still want to stay in their vehicle, then we can identify that and share it with our officers."
He loves music, and every Tuesday, he takes in a jam session at The Smorgasboard downtown. Redekop would rather do his own thing, but for someone who enjoys being alone, music provides a good social outlet.
"The social relationships are really important," said Redekop. "I don't really get much chance to interact with them, but just to be around people helps remind me that I'm still human."
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