Eganville – The RV by-law in Bonnechere Valley brought with it more than its share of controversy as it was being debated for years and it was suddenly passed in April, but now it has been repealed by council as the municipality begins a review of the entire township zoning by-law.
“We repealed it because now that OPA 31 (County of Renfrew Official Plan Amendment 31) has been ratified we will be redoing our entire zoning by-law,” explained Mayor Jennifer Murphy.
Council unanimously voted to rescind the by-law last Tuesday night. One of the reasons for the appeal was this nullifies the current challenge from the Lake Clear Property Owners Association which the township would have to defend in the Ontario Land Tribunal. Defending the by-law could have been a costly affair for the township.
“Instead of spending time and money on fighting in the land tribunal, we rescinded the by-law,” the mayor explained.
This was a very real possibility she spoke of back in April when the by-law was passed, pointing out the municipality would be looking at all the zoning after the county plan passed and it was premature to deal with this one issue. However, Mayor Murphy said she is not disappointed council passed the by-law, but people needed to realize the bigger issue is the entire zoning by-law.
“That is a 200-page document that has not been reviewed since 2004,” she said.
Many sections are outdated and it is important to take a good look at many zoning issues, which also includes the RV issue, she said.
As far as the RV issue, “it reverts back to what the by-law was before we passed it.”
This means the uncertainty and ambiguity will still be there for property owners who are both in favour and opposed to RVs around sensitive Lake Clear, as well as other properties in the township.
Mayor Murphy promised the township would be dealing with the zoning by-law as quickly as possible.
“We asked the county to use the county resources for the comprehensive zoning by-law,” she said.
Since BV is one of many municipalities asking for assistance and is at the top of the list, she believes this will occur quickly.
“We will be re-doing all our zoning,” she noted.
CAO Annette Gilchrist said it was not an unexpected move to rescind the RV by-law since the township is looking at the entire zoning issue and this will be a time-consuming task.
“We were committed to do a full review (of the zoning by-law) when the county passed the OPA (Official Plan Amendment),” she said.
Splitting staff resources and time between defending the RV by-law at the tribunal and looking at the entire zoning by-law did not make sense, she said. Rescinding the by-law now means it will all be looked at again in the coming months when staff, council and ratepayers look at the zoning.
Mrs. Gilchrist said although the township has up to three years to do the comprehensive zoning by-law, she is hoping it will be completed in the next six months. There is also a time crunch in case council becomes a lame duck council in the summer.
“We could run into a wall in July,” she said.
Having the whole zoning by-law looked at will ensure policies are in place which are the best for the township, she said. Each property owner is encouraged to see how the new zoning would affect their property and even adjacent properties, she said.
“There will be some changes, but it might stay the same,” Mrs. Gilchrist said of individual properties.
There will be public consultation throughout the process and maps of the township will be available for perusal so property owners can discuss their particular situation, she added.
Many issues which are part of the provincial policy statement, as well as the county plan will flow down to the township zoning, she said.
“Pay attention to when our public meetings are on this,” she said. “They will be advertised.”
Mrs. Gilchrist said she hopes a map and a draft zoning by-law will be ready in the new year.
“But we will not rush through it,” she added.
As far as the issue of RVs, it is back to the status quo right now.
“We have to look at it on a case-by-case basis,” she said.
There is a vast difference between an RV that is movable and one that is landscaped, so staff would have to look at each property, she noted.
“We don’t have time to send Mark (Building Inspector and By-law Enforcement Officer Mark Schroeder) out every single time,” she said.
At present the township by-law states if there are more than four RVs the property must be zoned tourist commercial
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader