Township changes RV parking rules

Owners may still have to pay to park vehicles elsewhere from September to May

Residents who have had enough of recreational vehicles parked on their neighbours’ driveways, jutting out beyond the sidewalk, or covered by an ugly tarp, will now find some relief in a Township zoning bylaw amendment.

Many owners of RVs, however, won’t be happy as some will still have to park their vehicles elsewhere for eight months of the year.

Until recently, recreational vehicles such as motor homes, travel and tent trailers, campers, boats and boat trailers, could be parked only in a rear yard, or the area of a side yard located behind the front yard setback of a residence.

There was no allowance in the zoning bylaw governing RVs parked in front of a house, regardless of the vehicles’ size.

Now the rules have been changed, RVs will only be allowed in front yards if there is a distance of 1.6 metres between the rear (or front) of an RV and the property line.

Furthermore, parking is only allowed between May 15 and Sept. 15.

From mid-September to mid-May owners will have to store their vehicles off their properties, or within the side or rear confines as set out in the bylaw.

For years, the Township has been plagued by complaints from residents upset with RVs that are parked on the road, in front yards, and protrude across sidewalks, and are an eyesore.

Earlier this year, a Walnut Grove resident came before council to complain about his situation.

Brad Mason said that after another resident complained to the Township about his camper it led to 40 other homeowners being targeted in his Forest Hills neighbourhood.

Mason said that RV owners balk at paying $1,000 in storage fees and don’t like the fact that they cannot advertise that they have driveways suitable for RV parking when they sell their homes.

This devalues their properties, he said.

Mason offered some solutions, among them better judgement when enforcing the bylaw, and enforcement that is fair, predictable and open, and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Following Mason’s presentation, council sought a staff report that would examine the bylaw of other municipalities, and what flexibility could be built into the Township’s bylaw, and how it is applied.

The report stated that the bylaws of Surrey, Abbotsford and Langley City are similar to the Township’s, and noted that Surrey requires landscape screens.

The Township requires complaints in writing which, council has been told, pits neighbour against neighbour. Neither Surrey nor Abbotsford requires written complaints. That element remains in effect in Langley.

“Hopefully, we’ve got it right this time,” Councillor Steve Ferguson commented.