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Monday , 8 August 2022
The lineup of character cars on Main Street St. Paul that the Town has ordered to be moved, says the property owner. The Town responded by saying that other damaged vehicles on the lot were at the heart of the issue. This is how the site looked at as of August 4, 2022.

Controversy swirls as Town of St. Paul orders removal of derelict vehicles

A St. Paul man has been ordered to remove damaged or derelict vehicles from his property on Main Street, which has caused a swirl of controversy on whether his character cars will be removed as well. 

Kelley Prymych owns the property at 5135 50 Avenue in St. Paul, and has had his character cars from the Pixar movie Cars on the property, which includes Tow Mater, Lightning McQueen, and other creations he’s made himself. 

He said he does it for the kids and that many people stop and take pictures with their children at the site. 

On July 15, he was issued a bylaw order directing him to remedy the unsightliness of the property and remove vehicles that are deemed to be dismantled or derelict in 45 days time, said CAO Steven Jeffery.  

However, Prymych has started an online petition to rally support to keep the character cars on the lot. By Thursday afternoon, it had reached over 1800 online signatures and his Facebook post has been shared over 300 times. 

A sign at the property says, “Town of St. Paul forces Tow Mater and friends’ lives to be crushed.” 

“The town is not working with people, they’re working against people,” Prymysh told Lakeland Connect, who said that St. Paul has not been showing they are a ‘People Kind of Place’ with this decision. 

“It wasn’t hey, can you remove one, this or that, it was a note saying all everything moved and everything cleared. So what do I do with a piece of land after? Who benefits from seeing another empty lot?” 

Prymych said that he spoke with the Town’s Director of Protective Services, Trevor Kotowitch, last year about the issue, specifically one car which had been sitting and needed to be scrapped. 

Otherwise, Prymych says there has been no communication between himself and the town until he was issued the order. 

The Town acted, CAO Steven Jeffery says, after complaints were made about other vehicles in dismantled condition on the property and was issued because of the state of the property at that time. Council also discussed this matter in-camera at a recent meeting. 

He told Lakeland Connect that the Town is just looking to remove what is considered “dismantled and derelict” and are not looking to “crush” the vehicles. 

“In our community standards bylaw, it does not speak to the number of vehicles that can sit on a site. It does not speak to if a vehicle is painted or characterized, can it sit on the property? No. It speaks to more of the wreckage type, dismantled. At one time I think maybe there were cars stacked on top of cars,” said Jeffery. 

“Those types of situations are what we’re trying to rectify. And the order was not specific on how many vehicles needed to be removed. It was open to interpretation, to have a conversation in order to get to that place and we’ve not been able to have that conversation.” 

He added that the condition of the property today was not the one that led to the bylaw order, but that there has also been issues of whether Prymysh has used the lot for what it is zoned for. 

“Sometimes the use of the land has not been necessarily following what it’s zoned for…to have vehicles on display is one thing, but then to have vehicles for sale is another actually, and then falls into another set of rules,” said Jeffery. 

“There is an opportunity for Mr. Prymych to speak to council. However, the communication line has got to be open, so that I can actually prepare an agenda with him listed as a delegation. If we can get to that point, then absolutely, the potential for a remedy does exist with council. Absolutely.” 

There is no building on the property after a fire in October 2020 burnt the structure to the ground. Prymysh and his dad have operated businesses at that location for several years. 

Prymysh is hopeful to keep the character cars on the property, otherwise, he has heard from other neighbouring communities that they would welcome the addition of McQueen and Mater. 

He has received a ton of support online since raising the issue this week. 

“It’s been overwhelming…But I think it’s really a poster child for everything that’s going on in St. Paul,” said Prymysh. 

“I’m not doing this for personal or financial gain. I’m doing this for kids. So by them forcing me to take this away, it’s actually forcing the kid to be having this loss.”

Prymysh added that he will look to talk about the matter at a future council meeting.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.