County bylaw restricting recreational vehicle parking on private property not sitting well with some residents

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

CALEDONIA—Slav Drmanic of Caledonia is frustrated. He, along with some neighbours on his street, received letters from the County bylaw department telling them they had to move a recreational vehicle from their driveway or face charges.

“We received a zoning letter dated July 29, 2021 stating, ‘An inspection of your property … in Haldimand County revealed that you have one (1) recreational vehicle (camping trailer) parked in your required front yard on your property in contravention of Haldimand County Zoning Bylaw HC 1-2020 section 5.2.14.’ We were advised we were required to remove the recreational vehicle from our front yard (driveway) on or before August 15, 2021 and that failure to do so may lead to charges pursuant to the above bylaw,” explained Drmanic.

      The particular bylaw in effect was just updated in fall of 2020. Randy Charlton, Building and Municipal Enforcement Services for the County, said that the new bylaw is continuing a regulation from its predecessor that restricts the parking of a number of vehicles in property spaces deemed ‘required front yard or required exterior side yard’ (see attached image).

The restrictions included in the bylaw are as follows:

  • Not more than one vehicle per dwelling unit shall be a vehicle used for commercial purposes and such commercial vehicles shall not exceed a height of 2.2 metres or a length of 6.7 metres.
  • Recreational vehicles, boats, personal watercraft, horse trailers, general use trailers, motorized racing vehicles, and snowmobiles shall be prohibited from parking in any required front yard or required exterior side yard.

“Most, if not all the concerns this year are related to the parking of RVs in driveways in the required front yard,” said Charlton. “Most new residential properties have front yards that are equal to the minimum standards. In this regard the required front yard may be 6m and the entire front yard is 6m. Established lots may have larger front yards.”

He gave an example: “A residential property may have a 10m front yard, however only 6m of that (front property line in) is required front yard, therefore an RV could be parked beyond the required front yard and within the remaining 4m on the driveway.”

As for the rationale behind these restrictions, Charlton said that permitting recreational vehicles in required front yard space leads to more people parking non-recreational vehicles unnecessarily on the street, creates a less desirable streetscape for residents, and most importantly, creates potentially dangerous sightline and safety issues for vehicles leaving the driveway or coming down the road. He cited a vehicle on the road not seeing a car pulling out behind a trailer, or a child coming down the street on a bike, as two examples of the types of danger posed.

While a recreational vehicle can never be parked in this portion of the front yard, a separate street parking bylaw currently allows for recreational vehicles to be parked for no more than two days on the street. Drmanic said, “I struggle to understand how it falls into the same rules as your vehicle when on the street but not when in your personal driveway.”

This other bylaw may see changes as well however, as Charlton said that staff are “currently looking at tightening regulations for on-street parking of recreational vehicles.”

For the interim, Drmanic is storing his pop-up trailer inside the garage: “With less than an inch clearance on each side, it is not ideal to have to pull the trailer in and out of the garage for each camping trip. It would be ideal to only have to do this for winter storage.”

Upset about the situation, Drmanic posted a lengthy complaint on social media, garnering a ton of feedback from the community, both for and against the bylaw.

“This is the first summer we have had a recreational vehicle in our driveway, however we have many neighbours that store trailers and boats in their driveways during the summer and have never had issues,” he said. “Multiple neighbours did receive the same letter as us this summer. All of them have said this is the first time they have dealt with bylaw regarding this issue.”

Charlton confirmed that their response to a bylaw concern is usually based on a complaint being received, noting that the complaint of one property could lead bylaw officers to inspecting other nearby properties as well.

Drmanic wants to see the bylaw amended to allow for reasonably sized recreational vehicles to be stored in driveways, asserting that vehicles such as small trailers and boats, snowmobiles, and seadoos “would not impede any sightlines.”

He says another option would to be to switch the bylaw to a seasonal application: “When people are boating or camping on and off through the summer it is not ideal to have to travel to pick up your recreational vehicle from storage each time. Nor is it ideal to incur this extra unnecessary expense. These are our own driveways and if there is space, we should be able to use it.”

In his social media post, Drmanic said he may prepare a petition to bring to Council: “We have not yet started a petition but there appears to be a lot of support according to our community post. We have recently heard that the issue might be before Council again soon, so we plan to look into that further.”