RVs generate concerns

Storage: City staff, council ponder best approach. The parking of recreational vehicles in Salmon Arm is a tale of two bylaws

The parking of recreational vehicles in Salmon Arm is a tale of two bylaws – two bylaws which appear to be largely ignored.

In response to a complaint last summer regarding RVs parking on the city’s boulevard and in front yards along 17th Avenue SE, city bylaw enforcement staff began telling residents about their bylaw infringements. In turn, the owners of the RVs complained to council that the city’s bylaws are not realistic and not enforced equitably. Some councillors suggested a moratorium  be placed on enforcing the bylaws until council can review the issues and gather input.

Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, outlined this background at the city’s planning meeting Monday.

He said letters were sent out to RV and property owners on the street and several responses were received, most not concerned with RVs in the front yard, but some concerned with RVs on boulevards.

He explained that two different bylaws, both about 20 years old, regulate RV parking. One is a zoning bylaw that states no unenclosed RVs can be parked or stored in a front yard. It doesn’t prohibit an ‘enclosed’ RV from parking in a front yard.

The zoning bylaw also limits storage of RVs to the rear and side yards of residential parcels, with one RV, one boat and one travel trailer permitted.

The second bylaw is a traffic bylaw that governs the city boulevards – the area between the street and the property line.

Although residents might believe their property goes right down to the city sidewalk, the city actually owns anywhere from 2.5 to 5.5 metres (eight to 18 feet) from the curb, depending on the area of the city. The older areas tend to have narrower boulevards.

Pearson said the traffic bylaw is administered by the engineering department, and the director of engineering has the authority to allow, or disallow, works or parking within the boulevard.

“You see a lot of activities in our boulevard,” Pearson said, referring to trees, rocks and landscaping. “A lot of that work is done without permission and, in most cases, it’s not a concern to staff.”

Like any other vehicle, an RV can be parked on the street, if insured and appropriately parked, for no longer than 72 hours.

Concludes the staff report to council: “The combination of regulations within the two bylaws does not permit driveway parking, boulevard parking or parking in the front yard of a residential parcel. Despite this, the use of these areas for parking is prevalent throughout the city.”

Pearson’s presentation included several photographs of RVs parked around the city, most contravening the existing bylaws.

Rob Niewenhuizen, director of engineering, said he is opposed to storage of RVs on boulevards, as they are usually used for snow storage or shallow utilities.

“We’re telling them they can landscape but they can’t have a permanent parking stall there.”

He noted that if people put in retaining walls or concrete pads and the city needs to deal with infrastructure below, the city will remove the retaining wall or pad at the owner’s expense.

Safety and sight lines for drivers are other factors city staff consider.

Mayor and council agreed that allowing RV parking in driveways would likely be a good step. However Coun. Alan Harrison noted that residents live on hills, so driveways aren’t always an option.

Coun. Ken Jamieson suggested it’s important for residents to understand what the dimensions of their properties are.

Pearson said staff will require time to consider the input from council before proposing whether to amend either of the two bylaws and how enforcement of contraventions would best be handled.

 

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