Vanlife community is evolving at an incredible rate!
More and more people are buying vans, the number of businesses that dedicate their activities to vanlife is skyrocketing and people are talking about this welcoming and inspiring movement. It’s important to ensure the sustainability of our community and this is why the creation of the Association Vanlife Quebec was necessary.
Founding of the association
The AVQ was founded by a group of enthusiasts who came together with the same goal: sustainability of the vanlife movement. From this meeting was created the first board of directors with 9 volunteers who have worked since October 2021 to the creation and structure of the association.
Their main activities for the moment are to set up and run the association while raising funds for the cause. In addition to educating and representing the vanlife movement, the Board and the organization wish to mobilize companies in the industry to create business links and encourage collaboration. The important thing is to solidify the community by creating exchanges and by sharing our passion for vanlife.
Representing the community
When a movement becomes this strong and significant, it’s important that it be able to structure itself to ensure its sustainability. Take for example Protect Our Winters, which brings together the outdoor community to actively work to protect the cold season. While most industries already had a voice to influence political decisions on the environmental level, POW came to give a voice to outdoor enthusiasts so they could take part in actions and debates.
It’s the same principle for the Association Vanlife Quebec. As vanlife grows, the association wants to become the voice for the nomadic community that wishes to continue to enjoy the roads of Quebec for a long time to come. The AVQ is therefore committed to representing the interests of its members while ensuring that vanlife remains a public, community-based movement accessible to all.
Since the creation of the association, this representation is done with governmental and touristic agencies to ensure that vanlifers are well received throughout Quebec. In fact, the AVQ took part in discussions concerning overnight stops in La Malbaie and Saguenay in order to provide advice and to help maintain sites for vanlifers. In addition to having a working committee for the advancement of these overnight stops and one to study all the legal aspects of vanlife, the association has developed a direct link with the Board of Camping Quebec, which will allow many advances for the future of vanlife in the province. The next work streams will also include defending the interests and values of vanlifers with the SAAQ so that regulations remain lenient towards DIY van projects.
One of the missions of the Association Vanlife Quebec is to educate its members and the public to demystify vanlife. While some parts of the world, such as Australia or Iceland, welcome vanlifers with open arms, the hospitality is not quite the same in Quebec. Since the summer of 2020, tourist overflows in various parts of the province are often wrongly associated with nomads on the road. From this reputation comes a series of regulations put in place by municipalities to reduce or even prohibit vans to sleep on their territory.
What you need to understand is that vanlife was already present in Quebec long before now! Vanlifers were already driving around in an ethical and respectful way while enjoying the beauty of the landscapes and encouraging the local merchants and producers. It’s wrong to associate the events of the summer of 2020 with our community and it’s for this reason that the Association Vanlife Quebec takes all its meaning to make vanlife shine in the media. It’s essential that the beautiful values on which vanlife is based endure, and the association also has the mandate to educate and transmit these values.
How you can help
Of course, since this association is by and for vanlifers, it’s possible for you to get involved! The very first step is to become a member in order to give your support and participate in the financing of the activities. To date, there are two levels of membership: individual and corporate.
It’s possible for everyone to become an individual member for only $40 per year. Your membership automatically gives you voting rights on AVQ activities and will soon give you access to exclusive advantages and discounts on van parts, insurance, camping, roadside assistance, etc. By becoming a member, you also agree to respect the vanlifer’s charter which promotes good practices on the road.
Businesses that are part of the vanlife community can become corporate members at a cost of $150 per year. This way, they commit to helping each other and to promoting the AVQ and its values to their own clientele. They also join their voices to that of the association to create changes that will benefit the community.
Eventually, members will also be able to take part in the creation and activities of sub-committees dedicated to specific projects! For example, if a group of members wishes to set up a specific campaign to respect the environment while on the road, they can get together and propose their project to the Board of Directors, which can then oversee this sub-committee. “It’s the members who decide what they want to do with their association,” says Gerry Lauzon, head of communications for the AVQ and one of the founders of the Quebec Vanning group. “Each member has a say in our goals, which is very important to us.”
“At the end of the day, the association is another pretext to camp together, share a campfire, and exchange on the most beautiful adventures that our vans allow us to live!» mentions Julien Roussin Côté, president of the AVQ. The values shared by the association will always remain the same as those that have been the basis of the vanlife movement for several decades. So, what are you waiting for to join?