by CONNIE TABBERT
WHITEWATER REGION (Westmeath) — Trevor White is feeling penalized by the Whitewater Region bylaws because of a disgruntled neighbour.
Many of the township bylaws are complaint driven. Township bylaw officer Doug Schultz received a complaint that Mr. White was violating the bylaw about having a trailer on his waterfront property that was being used to sleep in.
Mr. White spoke to council about this matter at the Feb. 20 council meeting.
He was not aware there was a bylaw that does not allow a trailer to be used for sleeping in on waterfront property.
“My parents had one (on the same property) for years,” he said.
And now, because a neighbour who is upset with him complained, he is being forced to remove his trailer. He explained the neighbour is upset because Mr. White’s family and friends are using watercraft on the river and it’s bothering people up and down the river. However, Mr. White did speak to many people along the river and no one is upset, except for this one neighbour.
“It’s his way of revenge,” Mr. White said. “We were doing nothing wrong.”
Mr. White was looking to rezone the property so he could have a trailer that people could sleep in.
However, he also noted, there are seasonal properties all along the Ottawa River where people have put in a trailer and sleep in it.
He received a copy of the bylaw and after reviewing it and talking to various people, he said, “The bylaw is vague. It’s okay to sleep in a tent but not in a trailer.”
Mr. White asked if council would consider amending the bylaw so that seasonable properties can have trailers on them to sleep in.
“I’d like to make use of our property,” he said.
He noted this is an old bylaw and the township could even benefit if the bylaw were changed and a nominal feel were charged for trailers to be allowed on seasonal properties.
Mr. Schultz advised council a travel trailer is only allowed in a trailer park. It can be stored on the property, but it cannot be used.
“When you start living in it, it’s human habitation” and that’s not an allowable use on this property, he said.
Chief Administrative Robert Tremblay said this is a zoning bylaw, not a municipal bylaw, so it’s just not possible to review just the trailer issue. With a planner joining staff on March 20, he could review this bylaw and respond back to council with options.
Councillor Charlene Jackson noted a bylaw that was in the former Ross Township was that a recreational vehicle could be used on seasonable property for 90 days and then it had to be moved for a minimum of 24 hours.
Mr. Schultz is not aware of this bylaw, but will search for it.
“The problem is, there are hundreds of these trailers,” he said. “It’s a widespread issue.”
Reeve Cathy Regier questioned what Mr. White does with “raw sewage and grey water.”
He said, “We have an outhouse. We limit the use (of water) in the trailer.” The water from the trailer is pailed out, he added.
Councillor Chris Olmstead believes there are “dozens of situations like this” and wants this review to happen as soon as possible.
“We need to come up with an holistic view and hopefully the planner can do that for us,” he said.
CAO Tremblay noted within Whitewater Region, the former boundaries of Beachburg have no zoning bylaws while the other former municipalities pre-date amalgamation. Every property has a zoning, and some have bylaws that must be enforced.
Councillor Dave Mackay questioned if the trailer could be pulled behind Mr. White’s truck.
However, as a dairy farmer, Mr. White said he doesn’t have time for trucking back and forth.
Councillor Neil Nicholson questioned if Mr. White needs to go through the amendment now or can he wait until after the review.
CAO Tremblay said to save the cost of an amendment, staff needs to bring options “back to council in a timely manner.”
He suggested Mr. Schultz monitor the situation and hopefully an amendment will not be required.
Mr. White is aware of two other trailers on the same road and the owners have not been advised they are in contravention of the bylaw. He said a petition could be started to get the bylaw changed if that was necessary.
CAO Tremblay said council needs to “find a balance” with a “common sense approach.”
He expects options will be brought back to council in the spring.