Controversy over new RV, boat storage rules blamed on misreading of bylaw

KINGSVILLE — A proposed bylaw amendment making it less restrictive to store boats and recreational vehicles in residential driveways has stirred up controversy with some Kingsville residents who think it does the opposite.

The existing bylaw limits the time homeowners can keep boats and RVs in their driveway to seven consecutive days, three times a year. The amendment, which comes to a vote at the April 12 meeting of council, allows the use of residential driveways for storage from May 1 to October 31. It also allows boats and RVs to be stored outside those months in a side or backyard, so long as there is at least a five-foot setback from the lot line.

Peter Valore, the town’s chief building official, said town staff were “shocked” by the negative reaction the proposed amendment received after it was published online.

“Honestly, from the feedback I’ve got, we think people just misread it,” he said.

The proposed bylaw states “no person shall park or store a recreational vehicle in any residential or agricultural zone,” adds the qualifier “unless” and then states the criteria allowing storage of a boat or RV in a driveway.

Rob Sassine, the town’s chief bylaw enforcement officer, said the May 1 to October 31 period was picked to conform with the time of year when recreational use of boats and RVs is at its highest and at-home storage is often required.“A lot of the things that were in the existing bylaw were carried over. The main thing is you can store it in a driveway now and there are set dates,” Sassine said. “There is nothing earth-shattering in the (new) bylaw.”

The proposed bylaw calls for fines of $150, but Valore said homeowners generally comply with bylaws after being notified by the town.

Paul Repko, who owns an RV that is currently being stored in Northern Ontario, was one of those Kingsville residents who was initially upset by what he read on social media about the proposed amendments, but changed his mind once he read the proposed bylaw.

Paul Repko

“Some of the stuff I read on Facebook was pretty extreme,” he said. “I think a lot of people jumped to conclusions. Once I actually read the bylaw (I realized) it actually opens things up quite a bit.”

Coun. Thomas Neufeld said the amendment recognizes Kingsville is a recreational and boating community and that many boaters and RV owners need to store their boats and RVs in the driveway during the summer.

He used the example of a small boat owner.

“If I’ve got a 14-foot aluminum boat I take out on the weekend, it doesn’t make financial sense for me to rent a slip.”

Neufeld said the proposed changes were prompted by complaints.

“There were complaints in the past from residents not wanting their street to look like a trailer park,” he said.

Sassine said boaters and RV owners who can’t store boats and RVs in a back or side yard during the winter will have to make storage arrangements away from the home.

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