Council goes against survey and upholds RV parking rules
Okotoks: Residents support easing regulations in summer months
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 02:03 pm
Motorhomes and RV trailers will have to remain in storage through summer as Okotoks council voted unanimously on Monday, May 14 to continue upholding existing rules banning parking of RVs on driveways for no more than three days.
The decision was made in spite of public support for an alternate plan that would've allowed people to park their RVs on their driveways during the summer camping season.
Coun. Ed Sands said it was a tough decision and the Town needs to set clear rules regarding parking RVs on front driveways.
“The lots are getting smaller, there's less opportunity to get anything in, nobody has side yards anymore,” he said. “The issue isn't the tent trailers, the issue is the 29-foot, huge, monster trailers.”
Existing rules limiting the length of time an RV can be parked on a front driveway to 72 hours were upheld. They must be stored off-site the rest of the time, however, anyone with an alley behind their home can store RVs in their backyards.
Councillors opposed an alternate proposal to allow parking on driveways in residential areas between May 15 and Oct. 15 and the 72-hour limit would be in place for the rest of the year.
A majority of Okotoks residents who responded to public consultation on the issue supported the second option. The Town received 948 responses from an open house, e-mails and an on-line survey with 60 per cent of respondents supported expanding RV parking for the summer months, while 40 per cent supported the status quo.
Opinion was largely split on the issue with those supporting the alternate plan saying it would be more convenient and save them the cost of storing their RVs in private facilities outside of town. Others said easing the restrictions would reduce visibility on residential roads and impact the aesthetics of neighbourhoods across town.
Sands defended the decision saying safety concerns out-weighed other issues and council isn't tied to results of the public consultation.
“We, council or the Town, should indicate findings are not necessarily binding,” he said.
Municipal enforcement team leader Tim Stobbs said the issue is not the size of individual units, but the problems they can cause.
He said parking RVs on driveways displaces vehicles onto the road and limits the amount of on-street parking available. This can also reduce visibility and safety on residential roads, he added.
“(Neighbourhoods) were designed to house normal day-to-day living, hence the neighbourhoods are designed for parking to house a certain number of off-street parking sites and on-street parking sites,” said Stobbs.
Councillors also voted to make it easier for bylaw enforcement to deal with problems. They approved moving the RV parking provisions from the land use bylaw to the nuisance bylaw. A bylaw reflecting the changes still needs to be brought back for council consideration.
Stobbs said moving the provisions to the nuisance bylaw will make it easier to enforce the rules. At present, he said it's a long task to deal with complaints and people who are found breaking the rules.
Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson supported the status quo because he felt the alternative went too far, but he's open to allowing small trailers to be parked on driveways.
“I was hoping there would be an amendment, which would allow a smaller trailer or some sort of compromise,” he said.
Yet, Robertson said it's critical to ensure visibility on roads in residential areas.
“It's a really awkward one, especially when we hear about kid's safety and so many people were opposed to it writing in letters about kids playing and sight lines being blocked and the chance for vehicular/pedestrian accidents,” he said.
Response to the decision is split in the community.
Okotoks resident Tony Bailey said allowing parking on driveways would restrict visibility on roads, particularly in the cul-de-sac he calls home.
“I have a lot of kids in my area and I have a big truck. My concern is if there is a trailer on each side of me, I can't see anything when I back up,” he said. “My main concern is it's a safety issue.”
If council were to ease the rules, he can also see them being abused. As such, he also supported making it easier for municipal enforcement to deal with infractions.
Other residents were surprised by the decision, considering public support for changing the rules.
“I'm quite disappointed that council chose to ignore the fact that the majority wanted something and they ignored it and pushed their own agenda through,” said Amber Harding.
She said she believes people should be allowed to park their RVs on their driveways if they don't extend off the driveway over the sidewalk or onto the road. She said it would save RV owners money, encourage them to buy small units and reduce exhaust emissions from people driving back and forth from storage lots outside of town.
Harding argued the Town could've compromised considering a majority of those who participated in the public consultation wanted a change.
“People with a small trailer, like a tent trailer or an extra parking pad, shouldn't be in the same category (as a large trailer),” she said.