LONG SAULT, Ontario – About 100 residents attended a Public Meeting at South Stormont Township Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 19 where Councillors wanted to hear feedback on various zoning by-laws that were previously discussed by members of the public.
“We want to be transparent to the community and we want you to be here to talk about it,” said Mayor Bryan McGillis.
The first topic of discussion pertained to recreational and large vehicle parking in the municipality. No decisions would be made by Council during the meeting, but all information presented was recorded.
“The Township has received requests to regulate parking of recreational vehicles such as motor homes, boats, campers and other large vehicles. The Township’s current zoning by-law requires any vehicles parked or stored in a residential zone to be located within a designated parking area on a lot. Storage of RVs and other vehicles are currently prohibited on vacant residential lots,” read a Township statement.
“A lot of municipalities have many restrictions…mainly (involving) aesthetics,” said Peter Young, Director of Planning, Building and Economic Development. “We get quite a few complaints (about this) in residential neighbourhoods.”
Young explained that since feedback had been requested from the public in August, the Township had received nine written comments and several phone calls, and Councillors had also received numerous messages on the matter. Of the initial feedback received, residents’ main concerns included expenses to attain more property to better store/park their large vehicles, as well and many contending they moved to the community because of the relaxed stance and openness to large vehicles and camping.
The Township had devised four options, and recommended Council eventually opt for option three, which includes no change to the current by-law. After an hour of discussion, Mayor McGillis called for a show of hands, which showed a majority of about 85 per cent in favour of maintaining the current regulations, with case-by-case exceptions involving short-term usage of RVs and parking measures that ensure safety.
One resident voiced his opinion that it should be enforced that there are no large vehicles blocking usage of any sidewalks, as this could cause potential hazards, using the example of children on bicycles and residents with disabilities.
Resident Scott Porter agreed with this statement, and also questioned if residents were allowed to use their driveway for their large vehicle and park their automobile/s on the road in front of their property.
“The bit about the RV not taking up the whole parking space…if there’s nowhere for you to park your car and you put the RV in the driveway, that creates a problem where you park your vehicle,” said Porter.
Resident Kevin Neville suggested their should be an exception for residents who are utilizing trailers as temporary living quarters, for example if they are working locally over the weekend and live within a trailer that is parked on their own property. Another resident shared similar concerns, contending that his family visit and often stay for about a week in a trailer on his property.
“These restrictions…are everywhere. In Winnipeg, you can’t leave your RV in front of your house for more than two weeks or your (house) insurance is canceled. I moved here 13 years ago because I could build a house with a 70 ft. driveway and park my fifth-wheel beside my house. I can not, for the life of me, see how that interferes with anybody else,” said resident Gary Theriault.
South Stormont Council plans to discuss this, and other zoning by-law topics, at a later time.