About twenty residents filled Cold Lake City Council Chambers on Tuesday evening for the Public Hearing regarding Land Use Bylaw 575-LU-16, unofficially referred to as, RV Parking Bylaw. Discussion was vibrant among the citizens, City Administration, and Council; whom ultimately voted, 4-3, against making any amendments to the bylaw. Councillor, Chris Vining, who was very much for the proposed changes, says it was one of the tougher nights on Council for him.
“As we went up and down the table, I didn’t feel there was support, from Council, on any of the proposed changes,” Vining says Council has been talking about the proposed amendments for some time and even hosted an Open House earlier in the month to get feedback from the community. With all that effort the Councillor feels it was “a waste of time. If there wasn’t any will of Council to make any change, which it didn’t seem like there was, I’m not sure why we’re continuing to go down this road.”
There were four main changes the City was looking at making:
- A maximum of one (1) Recreational Vehicle may be stored in the front yard of a lot in any residential district from April 1 to October 31 of each calendar year. Recreational Vehicles shall not be stored within the front yard of a lot in any residential district from November 1 of any calendar year to March 31 of the following calendar year.
- No part of a Recreational Vehicle, including a hitch or fifth-wheel attachment, or any item attached to the Recreational Vehicle, may be located closer than 1.0 m from the back edge of the sidewalk, or, where there is no sidewalk, from the back edge of the curb, or, where there is no curb, from the nearest edge of the paved surface of the road.
- Any recreational vehicle parked or stored on a lot in any residential District must be parked or stored on a driveway or a parking pad. Recreational Vehicle(s) shall not be parked or stored on a landscaped portion of any lot.
- Within any residential district, Recreational Vehicles shall not be stored on a vacant lot where no principal residential use exists.
*City of Cold Lake
“I’ve been hearing from people that they weren’t very happy with the way our neighbourhoods were going,” Vining says he’s been getting feedback since his first term on Council, seven years ago, “lots of clutter, with the trailers, plugs dragging on the driveways, people parked out on the streets, trailers with overhang on the sidewalks and streets.” Vining says it can be tricky to drive around neighbourhoods with the congestion of trailers and unsafe for children, “you can’t really see kids who dart out on the streets. The streets become very narrow if you have trailers parked on both sides of the streets.”
After hearing from the residents, Vining started looking at ways to improve the situation, “one of the things was that there were real issues with how RVs were parked in town, and not just trailers, boats too.” Vining says the community is at an in-pass, “in my mind, we have a community that is two stages. People who have a lot get to take advance of everything, where people who don’t have a lot and keep their area clean have to put up with the inconvenience of having these things parked in our driveways and being left there year round.”
Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland, says there was a range of opinions from the people in attendance for the public hearing, “we had a mixed bag of opinions, but we gave everybody in the room who wanted to speak, an opportunity to speak.” The mayor says one gentleman came with photos and “did an amazing presentation. He had gone around his whole neighbourhood and was speaking on not enforcing the bylaw and just using common sense, as he called it.”
Something that I really wanted to do, in terms of safety, was get the trailers back from the sidewalks. My own kids have run into trailer hitches with their bikes or you’ll see two moms trying to pass each other, with strollers, on the sidewalks and can’t because of hitches. – Chris Vining Councillor Cold Lake
“I did a lot of research into other communities,” Vining says some of the amendments were made based on the success Wihitecourt had with their bylaw. Whitecourt being of similar size and demographics to Cold Lake. “A lot of the laws, we were looking at making, were a lot of the same that they have; in terms of setbacks and seasonal parking.”
Part of the issue with those opposed to the changes was the seasonal aspect, explains Mayor Copeland, “from November 1st to March 31st, you couldn’t store a recreational vehicle on the front part of your property.” Council wasn’t prepared to tell residents what they could do on their property. Further, explains Copeland, Council didn’t like the idea of telling property owners they couldn’t park their RVs or boats on their front lawns. Those who didn’t support the bylaw, “felt uncomfortable telling people what they can and cannot have on their property, ie. having the campers removed from their front lawns.”
“We have people who are taking advance, they have big fifth-wheels and they have it jacked up, hanging over the sidewalks. They’ll put an orange safety flag on it and think that’s suitable. Or there’s neighbourhoods where there’s people who have RVs parked on their front lawn’s year-round. The aesthetic is back.”
I really felt that came through in the debate, there was not the will, of the Council, to do anything about this. It was disappointing, I thought we had an opportunity to really make a big step forward in our community to clean things up and move from a rural community to a city. – Chris Vining Councillor Cold Lake
City Administration will bring the issue to a Corporate Priorities Meeting in the next few weeks to determine if RV Parking is something that Council sees necessary to make any amendments to. Councillor Vining, along with Councillor Kelvin Plain and Councillor Darrell McDonald, were the three voted for moving forward. While the remaining four votes squashed the amendments. “The key to it all, is respect everybody’s decision,” Mayor Copeland says that’s one of City Council’s strong suits, “our Council does do a lot of 7-0 votes, but there are some controversial items, like this one. Everyone’s got an opinion and everyone respects it. Council spoke and they just weren’t comfortable enough to support it.”
It was really great to see public engagement and people getting involved in a bylaw. -Craig Copeland Mayor Cold Lake