Eganville – Despite the strongly worded threat of legal action by the Lake Clear Property Owners Association (LCPOA), Bonnechere Valley council is refusing to back down from the recently passed RV by-law amendment and rescind it.
“The LCPOA continues to hope that an acceptable solution to the RV issue on Lake Clear is possible without either the LCPOA or BVT incurring unnecessary and unavoidable legal costs of appeal,” a letter from Judy Bates, the president of the LCPOA stated.
If the desire was to make councillors waver from their decision earlier this month to pass a by-law amendment defining RVs as a movable vehicle and allowing up to four of these “movable and non-permanent” vehicles on a property, the effect was just the opposite.
“I won’t bow down to any bullying tactics at this part of the game,” Councillor Tim Schison said during a committee meeting of council last Tuesday.
Mayor Jennifer Murphy, who said she had a property owner on Lake Clear calling about the letter and so upset they were “spitting tacks”, said there is no indication from many property owners around the lake this is actually on behalf of the LCPOA.
“It was not the LCPOA as a whole,” she said. “I got some pretty angry phone calls and emails about the request (to rescind the by-law). It was in fact the executive.”
The letter from Ms. Bates said not only had council outlined various considerations during the March 19 public meeting, but also agreed to await for a response from a mediator on April 20.
“Then, to the astonishment of the LCPOA board, Mr. O’ Brien (Tom O’Brien the mediator who volunteered his services) and many LCPOA members, council suddenly and unanimously approved the by-law amendment on April 6th,” she said.
In her opinion, the by-law does not address any of the concerns of setbacks, lot size, waste and grey water disposal or the number of RVs per lot she said. Instead, it “simply defines RVs as being a vehicle unless it is permanently affixed to the ground, does not have running gear or towing equipment or is connected to septic or water.
“Therefore, we expect that 99 per cent of the RVs currently being used for human habitation without being subject to rules and regulations will be exempted and will continue to be used as unregulated cottages,” she wrote.
Under this by-law these RVs would be unregulated with no enforcement possible, she added. As well, she pointed out the County of Renfrew Official Plan Amendment will be likely be approved this summer and will necessitate a total review of all BV by-laws, so the RV issue will be dealt with then.
“If this is the case, why approve this by-law amendment and trigger a time sensitive appeal window?” she asked. “Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to leave the current by-law in place and wait?”
Ms. Bates said “the LCPOA has never desired a solution as a result of LPAT appeals or litigation. This is a very costly and time-consuming process for everyone involved.”
In conclusion she asked for council to rescind the by-law and await the results of the OPA amendment.
However, none of the members of council agreed with her stance.
“We passed the by-law and it’s going forward,” Councilor Jack Roesner said. “This by-law will be revisited when the OPA is passed.
“I guess they are trying to give us a way out so we don’t incur legal fees,” he added.
CAO Annette Gilchrist said the LCPOA cannot file an appeal as an association but individuals can.
“They are suggesting they will go ahead with an appeal to the local planning tribunal,” she added. “There will be costs associated with that appeal.”
She also cautioned anyone can appeal to the tribunal.
“The individuals who contacted me disagree with the current by-law and the new by-law,” she added.
Since the current by-law cannot be appealed, the appeal would be for the new by-law.
Coun. Roesner said council was trying to fix the by-law and the LCPOA group is coming back to council with opinions stating no RVs should be allowed.
“The whole purpose of this is to clean up our by-law because we knew our by-law was not worded proper,” he said.
“If we step back on this, we are just opening our door to their legal letter we are to be challenged with anyway,” he said. “There is no win here.”
Coun. Schison said he received “overwhelming support” of the by-law in feedback from many individuals.
Councillor Brent Patrick and Councillor Merv Buckwald both said they agreed with the by-law council passed a few weeks ago.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader