Are recreational vehicles an unsightly nuisance in residential neighbourhoods or should homeowners be allowed to park what they want on their own property?
That is a question Coquitlam council is grappling with as staff review the city’s commercial and recreational vehicle parking regulations.
Currently, an RV is allowed to be parked on a residential property if it is shorter than 7.6 m and weighs less than 4,500 kg (close to 10,000 lb.). But changes proposed by staff would eliminate the weight restriction and allow RVs of any length, provided they are screened by fencing or landscaping, and parked in an interior side yard or at the rear of the property.
Some councillors said the proposed regulations do not go far enough.
Coun. Mae Reid called for prohibiting boats and RVs in some higher-density neighbourhoods, like Burke Mountain, where lot sizes are smaller than in other parts of the city.
“We spend half of our time talking about parking because people are putting their toys in the garage and parking on the street,” she said during a committee meeting Monday.
She also noted that many homeowners with secondary suites are required to provide parking to their tenants but end up using the spaces for their own purposes.
“We are fighting against ourselves here,” she said. “It just isn’t making a lot of sense. To me, there should be a certain lot size where they are prohibited. It’s not like you can’t have them. You just can’t store it at home.”
Jim McIntyre, the city’s general manager of planning and development, said staff could look at implementing a sliding scale ratio, with the size of boat or vehicle conforming to the size of the property.
But staff said the rules they are proposing may have the same effect, with McIntyre noting that many of the smaller lots on Burke Mountain do not have side yards and, therefore, couldn’t accommodate larger RVs.
“When we get into some of the tighter neighbourhoods in the northeast, having an RV in a side yard could really cram it up,” he said. “There isn’t much of a side yard in these new neighbourhoods.”
Height was another issue council asked staff to explore.
Mayor Richard Stewart noted that a complaint arose in the Como Lake neighbourhood after a resident parked an RV on a raised side yard parking pad, which put the vehicle at the same height level of many houses in the area.
Council also asked staff to consider regulations requiring the owner of an RV to be the owner or occupant of the home where the vehicle is parked.
A staff report stated that bylaw officers attend approximately 11 oversized vehicle complaints per year and often find the vehicle in question meets the restrictions but the “complainant still believes they are unsightly or otherwise inappropriate” for a residential area.
On the other side of the argument, RV owners state that the city’s rules are out of date and that many larger vehicles on the market today do not conform to the size and weight restrictions, according to the document.
Staff will take council’s input and put together a report that will be presented at a future meeting.
The rules for RVs are fairly consistent in the rest of the Tri-Cities.
In the city of Port Coquit-lam, a vehicle cannot be parked in a residential neighbourhood if it is longer than 26 feet (7.9 m) or weighs more than 4,600 kg.
In Port Moody, an oversized vehicle is considered anything longer than 6 m and taller than 2.3 m.