Eganville – The first snow of the winter may have fallen, but it is RV time in Bonnechere Valley as council deliberates again the issue of RVs on properties and debates – again – just what an RV is and how many should be allowed for a property of various sizes.
“Are we going to start dictating where I park my vehicle?” questioned Councillor Brent Patrick at a committee meeting of council last Tuesday afternoon. “A tent, a vehicle, a recreational vehicle is the same thing. It is not a permanent structure.”
The rather contentious and pesky issue of RVs has been plaguing BV since the last council was in chambers and no resolution was found then. Now, two years into the mandate of the new council, the issue was brought to the table in the form of a by-law which would clarify just what is a “recreational vehicle” and specify where they can be located. Fortunately, for the many people who have a great deal of interest in the issue, this was another very preliminary discussion of the by-law and some parts of the by-law were thrown out immediately, such as the stipulation there would be only one recreational vehicle on a lot. Council instead opted to keep the current four recreational vehicles per lot, but the by-law is still far from passed and will be coming back to council at a future date.
CAO Annette Gilchrist explained to council the draft by-law was presented to council to clarify the wording on what is an RV and to add some additional provisions which are recommended under the Official Plan. She said council would still have to proceed with a comprehensive zoning by-law update once the new Official Plan has been approved by Renfrew County council. The draft by-law would also change the land use provisions of the Limited Service Residential – Exception One (LSR-E1), Limited Service Residential – Exception Two (LSR-E2), Rural Residential (RR), Rural (RU) and Residential Four (R4) Zones to permit a trailer/recreational vehicle to be used for seasonal accommodation.
However, as council discussed the issue of RVs, it is clear there are several themes and undercurrents and the background request from the Lake Clear Property Owners Association to limit the use of RVs on properties is still very much present in the mind of each member of council.
“It always surprised me the interest this organization (the LCPOA) has,” Coun. Patrick noted. “If they are so concerned with the environment, why are they not concerned with the redevelopment of cottages that are doubling in size, or boathouses? In my opinion that would have more of an impact than these people with RVs on large properties.
“I think people should worry less about other people’s private property and worry more about their own,” he added. “That is what COVID is going to teach us.”
In introducing the discussion on the proposed by-law, Mayor Jennifer Murphy said some of the wording came out of original recommendations by council.
“The committee was not interested in licensing and permits but wanted to clarify the numbers of trailers and setbacks,” she said.
The by-law would not be going into effect even if council approved the wording, she stressed but would be open to public consultation.
“It would be months before it goes into effect,” she said.
As well, this would not affect properties in the village of Eganville because RVs are not permitted there.
“It clarifies for other properties which are using RVs and trailers for seasonal accommodations,” she said.
The mayor said the current by-law specified more than four requires zoning as a tourist commercial.
Councillor Merv Buckwald said he wanted to put everything on halt until July or August and suggested council go on a tour of the Lake Clear area to see what the issue is.
“We got one party saying the sky is falling and the other saying nothing is wrong,” he said. “I just think we got to have a look at it ourselves.”
There also needed to be more discussion on the size of a lot, he said.
“In the proposed by-law it says one on a lot,” he said. “I’ve got 80 acres here. Is that one lot? There are people around the lake who have 100 acres. Can they only put one on it?”
Multiple RVs On Lots
Mayor Murphy pointed out there are concerns in the community about multiple RVs on some lots.
“We did get a piece of correspondence about seven properties with 25 RVs,” she said. “How is that substantiated? We never heard that before.”
Councillor Jack Roesner said he had an issue with just having it as one trailer per lot. He said one person might have 100 feet frontage on a lot and another one-mile frontage.
“A lot of thought needs to go into this,” he said.
Coun. Patrick said he did agree with the wording of what an RV is, which states it is intended for use as “accommodation exclusively for travel, recreation and vacation and which is either capable of being drawn by a passenger vehicle or is self propelled.”
The draft by-law also specifies the towing equipment or running gear must be operational and the RV cannot be permanently affixed to the ground. It also clarified this is not a mobile home.
Councillor Tim Schison said if an RV is not a structure it cannot be treated as such.
“If you are allowed to have four trailers that is where you should sit,” he said. “We don’t want to restrict more. If you have a 100-acre property and you have four RVs, we should not restrict them further than that.”
He said he did not feel private property needed to be restricted further if people were properly disposing of their waste.
“There is no more harm in parking an RV than backing your boat into the water,” he added.
Mayor Murphy said she is a big fan of setbacks but recognized there are properties in the township where they could not adhere to setbacks even if they wanted to. Coun. Patrick said while he agreed with setbacks, this did not apply to RVs because they are not considered a structure.
Mayor Murphy said the by-law needs to be reworded and brought back to council again. “We want four or less and we also want the definition,” she said.
She also said BV needs to look at other zoning issues, including the allowance for additional dwellings on a property.
“We don’t allow in BV a little bungalow on the property,” she said.
Using the example of her own property, she said she could not build a separate dwelling for an aging parent but could build a granny suite onto a dwelling. However, in other townships, a separate dwelling would be allowed.
“There is disparity,” she said.
Coun. Patrick said the issue of finding accommodation for aging family members is an important consideration.
“The province is going to the granny suites and that is a huge push,” he said.
Coun. Buckwald said he understood a mobile home would be allowed as a secondary unit in the township and had been permitted.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader