Eganville – The Lake Clear Property Owners Association (LCPOA) is asking members to make their opinions known to Bonnechere Valley Township (BVT) about the by-law amendment relating to RVs.
“One submission from the LCPOA is not enough to truly represent the views of the Lake Clear property owners and BVT constituents,” Judy Bates, the president of the LCPOA wrote to all members. “Please note that submissions are not limited to one vote per property owner. Each BVT voter is entitled to submit an opinion. Silence can be interpreted as consent.”
Not only were members encouraged to submit their comments to members of council, but also provincial ministers involved with natural resources and the environment, as well as Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson.
The six-page letter from the LCPOA, which was sent to BV council as well, pointed out the issue has been investigated for over five years and the LCPOA is upholding its mandate of protecting the lake.
“The LCPOA has never suggested that Lake Clear property owners should not be permitted to store RVs on their property, nor suggested that the occasional use of RVs for the accommodation of weekend or even occasional guests be prohibited,” the letter stated. “They have continued to reinforce that RVs being used as cottages or cottage replacements be subject to the same setback and other regulations as those who have erected sleep cabins or other structures on their properties in terms of environmental setback and sewage and greywater disposal requirements.”
She outlined the history of the issue, pointing out Lake Clear remains an at capacity lake.
“Lake Clear must be treated differently from the rest of Bonnechere Valley,” she wrote.
Development is not permitted on the lake, including the creation of new lots within 300 metres of the shoreline, she said.
“RVs on waterfront properties are a form of unregulated and unlawful development,” she wrote.
The County Official Plan, as well as the Provincial Policy Statement all recognize the fragile status of Lake Clear.
“BVT is derelict in their obligation to uphold and enforce the policy direction provided by the Provincial Policy Statement and the guiding principles contained in the Renfrew County Official Plan 2020,” she wrote.
As well, the LCPOA will challenge the by-law amendment and “will avail itself of all available avenues to highlight the BVT erroneous approach to this issue, including, but not limited to seeking professional assistance and linking with the applicable provincial departments,” she noted.
Ms. Bates said it was never the suggestion of the LCPOA that this RV issue should be township wide.
“It is astounding that council is proposing up to four per lot,” she said.
In a detailed report to association members, she said a water and land tour of the lake resulted in a comprehensive spreadsheet detailing 55 RVs on Lake Clear and whether they are stored, derelict or used for accommodation. The report states 46 are used for accommodation. She said the issue began five years ago when one of the property owner members approached the LCPOA on the issue. The issue was then taken on by the newly formed Land Use Committee.
“Council discussions have been delayed for years and this appears to be an accelerated move to not only allow RVs to be used as cottages/cottage supplements on Lake Clear, but is suggesting that not one, but up to four should be allowed on all lots,” she wrote.
In her letter, she also clarified the legal opinion, stating the Land Use Committee sought approval for the LCPOA Board to approve funds for a legal opinion. At that point, the request was not approved due to a lack of funds.
“A group of property owners then chose to pursue this on their own and in early 2019 sought and obtained a legal opinion about the lawfulness of RVs on Lake Clear,” she said. “This group decided not to present its legal opinion to council, but instead waited for BVT’s council action.”
While asking BV for their legal opinion, the group continued to receive none. At this point, although she states the group does not want to pursue litigation – nor is it in the financial position to do so – the decision was made to seek a legal opinion.
“Thanks to an anonymous group, the LCPOA was able to approach the same law firm and building off the original opinion was able to secure an opinion on behalf of the LCPOA,” she wrote.
The decision to seek legal advice was approved unanimously by the LCPOA board, along with a commitment of funds. However, the legal opinion was provided at no cost in the end.
The public meeting for the by-law amendment is scheduled for February 16. During a committee meeting of council, CAO Annette Gilchrist said interest in the issue has been strong with about 34 letters already submitted.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader