The Town of Black Diamond is looking to its citizens before deciding how to address the issue of recreational vehicles parked in front driveways.
During its June 17 meeting, Black Diamond town council agreed to have administration prepare an online survey to gather public opinion on the issue, as well as to develop a clear definition of what a recreational vehicle is.
“There’s an opportunity here to review the whole recreational vehicle parking throughout the whole town,” said Coun. Brian Marconi. “It’s an issue that’s not going to go away. It’s going to keep coming up as the town develops.”
Council’s decision was in response to concerned residents who were visited by bylaw officer Dillon Cranston on May 29, informing them that the Town’s land use bylaw does not allow RVs to be parked in front driveways in areas zoned R1-C – referring strictly to the Willow Ridge and Riverwood subdivisions - due to their small lot sizes.
Senior peace officer Jim Berry told council that protective services had received complaints about RVs parked in front driveways in the subdivisions, prompting the blitz. He said RVs tend to reduce the visibility of pedestrians and motorists and can allow for the opportunity for crime.
“Obstructing the view of a neighbour’s property can add to accessibility of someone breaking into your car,” he said. “It gives a huge blind spot in front of their house. A couple of complainants have mentioned the reason why they moved to Black Diamond was that they had stipulation in the area that there is no RVs parked in the front.”
Berry said Cranston recorded 19 RVs parked in frontyards during his one-day blitz and spoke to all but one of the owners. He said about half a dozen RVs had since been moved.
Marconi told council that RVs parked in front yards in Willow Ridge and Riverwood is problematic.
“People forget that their property lines are five feet back from the curb,” he said. “Some of these trailers are pushing the limits and are up to the sidewalk, which is two feet over the property line. Something has to be done.”
Following last month’s blitz, the Town received 37 letters from citizens asking council to amend the land use bylaw. In addition to the lots being smaller, the Riverwood properties don't have a back alley and only some do in Willow Ridge.
The Town also received three letters from citizens concerned that RVs in front driveways pose a safety issue as they block the view of approaching pedestrians and motorists, are considered aesthetically unpleasing, could contribute to increased crime and potentially decrease property values.
Planning manager Rod Ross told council that enforcing this portion of the land use bylaw is challenging because it requires the development authority and protective services to inform the property owner they have two weeks to remove the trailer or a stop order would be implemented. The resident can appeal it under the preview of the Subdivision Appeal Board.
“In order to really make anything happen we often have to go to court,” he said. “That takes a long time to achieve something that’s really simple like pulling a vehicle off of a lot.”
Ross suggested RV parking be addressed in a community standards bylaw, which the Town currently doesn’t have.
“We could draft a bylaw that would address RV parking and roll it into a community standards bylaw when that project happens,” he said.
Chief administrative officer Sharlene Brown said the Town hasn’t enforced the RV parking portion of the land use bylaw since it was put in place in 2004, although it has come to council for reconsideration in 2012 and 2016 with no change.