RVezy turns RVs into isolation housing during COVID-19

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Even in the midst of a pandemic, Canadian ingenuity is still flourishing.

The founders of RVezy, an RV peer-to-peer recreational vehicle company, have found a way to help essential workers self-isolate while staying close to home.

In the same way Airbnb lets you rent your house or apartment to someone else, RVezy lets people who own motorhomes, camper trailers and every kind of recreational vehicle rent them out to others.

“Most people use a recreational vehicle a few weeks a year. What about the other 11 months? You’ve got a very expensive asset sitting unused in the driveway,” says RVezy co-founder Mike McNaught.


Mike McNaught and his family in front of an RV. SUPPLIED

Lots of people want to try the RV experience for a holiday,  “But they can’t spend $50,000 just to see if they like it.”

The peer sharing idea saw McNaught and his business partner, Will Thompson, launch RVezy in 2016. The business has been a huge success.

Now it may save lives.

RVezy has been called upon to provide emergency accommodation to health care professionals and other essential workers who need to self-isolate to protect their families, but who also need to stay close to home.

Individual frontline workers, such as doctors and nurses, have turned to RVezy to get an RV so they can self-isolate and protect their family’s health. They’re more or less still home during the pandemic  — just parked right outside.

Large organizations are also housing staff in recreational vehicles from RVezy; whether it’s one person or an army of workers, RVezy does all the legwork and set-up, right across the country.

“It goes from one person living with his elderly mother and wanting to protect her, but staying close to home, all the way to a power company that needed 70 RVs to house essential workers. We created a makeshift RV park for them.”

McNaught is a former Ottawa police officer who worked in the Emergency Services Unit. Will Thompson spent 20 years in the Canadian military, including a stint  in Afghanistan.

“We’re both used to stress, and to innovating to find solutions.”


RVezy founders Will Thompson (left) and Mike McNaught, pitching Dragon’s Den. SUPPLIED

This latest venture, says McNaught, came from the RV owners themselves, who wanted to help in a crisis.

McNaught responded by waiving all service fees for RVezy during this period. Owners dropped their fees.

“Everyone has been hit financially — RV owners too. Renting helps them pick up a bit of money, but the owners are all lowering their rates, some by 50%.”  And some just want the insurance covered, but offer their RVs free.

“We’re all working together to help where we can.”

McNaught sees one very obvious need RVezy can fill.

“There are 2.1 million recreational vehicles in Canada. People don’t realize. One in six households has an RV. Police forces and hydro companies are already using them and it’s a great use of this asset,” he said.

“But what about hospitals? We know they need them. They’re trying to plan and coordinate for the tsunami of coronavirus patients that are coming. Hospitals are going to be overwhelmed. Put patients in these RVs!

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“They are far better, far more humane than a makeshift tent,” McNaught added.

As for the future, McNaught is doing his damnedest to remain positive.

He foresees a summer where people will want to venture outdoors on holiday, but may still be cautious over coronavirus.

Luckily, they can travel safely in an RV.

“You can go camping with your family and enjoy yourself without being in a crowd. People will have all that pent-up energy and want to get outdoors, and I think we’ll see a huge spike in demand,” he says.

“In an RV you can get out but still practise social distancing, still be isolated. And still be safe.”

lbruan@postmedia.com

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