Ontario Town Renews RV Park Exemption
Permanent residents at an Ontario trailer park will not be forced to leave their homes come wintertime for at least three more years, according to the Waterloo Record.
A bylaw exemption that applies to 52 of the 300 sites at Green Acre RV Park in Waterloo, Ont., was renewed by the Waterloo city council July 23, permitting residents on those sites to remain year-round until July 2010.
“I think it’s a great compromise,” said Councilor Angela Vieth, whose ward includes the campground. “We’ve worked with the residents out there on this. They’re pleased and we’re pleased with how it’s worked out.”
The previous temporary use zoning bylaw for the campground, approved in 2004, was set to expire this fall.
Most of the sites in the campground are for seasonal use only. The city’s zoning bylaw requires most residents to leave their trailers for at least two months between November and April.
Joan Welsh, who has lived at Green Acre for 20 years, said the two-month requirement was problematic for residents who couldn’t afford to live somewhere else or pay for the insurance required to move their trailers to the U.S.
“It’s a good thing it worked the way it did,” she said. “We’ve been fighting a long time for this. A lot of us will be dead or gone by that time anyway.”
Since 2004, residents on non-eligible sites were given the option of applying for a hardship exemption. Granting such requests creates risk and liability for the city and the process could be abused, city staff told the council.
On Monday, councilors adopted a protocol for these requests which will limit the request to one year and requires the applicant to show the trailer is safe for year-round use. They also approved periodic visits by bylaw officers and requiring the park owner to biannually report anyone there year-round who is not covered by the exemption.
Portions of what is now the campground were used in the 1960s for picnics, family gatherings and camping.
In 1977, the city recognized the site as a seasonal recreational camping facility. Since then, the city has told the park owner numerous times the agricultural zoning permits only seasonal recreation trailers, not permanent mobile homes, according to a staff report.
In 2001, the city launched a review of the park and found several residents were living there year-round.
The city passed an exemption which permitted 95 trailers – which passed building code inspections – to be used temporarily as permanent residences. As residents die or their trailers are sold, the sites return to seasonal use only.
By May, the number of trailers still eligible for the exemption had dropped to 52, according to city staff.