Tehkummah enforces zoning bylaw, starts process of taking some trailer residents to court

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Councillor Rick Gordon warns of ‘snowball effect,’ says he has counted upwards of 30 trailers in the municipality

TEHKUMMAH – Tehkummah council has voted to authorize its chief building official Gerry Strong to enforce its zoning bylaw under the provincial offences act in response to a set of camper trailers from a property in the township, the same property that was the subject of aggressive dog allegations from neighbours at the September council meeting.

“According to the Zoning Bylaw 80-02 camper trailers are only allowed in tourist trailer parks. The campers on this property contravene the bylaw and I would request that council grant permission for me to proceed with enforcement of the zoning bylaw under the Provincial Offences Act,” read a memo to council by Mr. Strong.

“In order for the bylaw officer to act on this, we have to pass this motion giving him permission to go ahead,” said Reeve David Jaggard.

Tehkummah clerk-administrator T. Silvio Berti said the matter would be going to court and, as such, there would be costs associated with initial filing fees and the costs of any possible legal proceedings.

Councillor Michael McKenzie asked whether the property owners had been notified that their trailers are against township bylaws. Mr. Berti confirmed that the request to remove them had previously been made to the owners.

Councillor Rick Gordon asked whether the apparent problematic dog had been removed from the property, to which a resident attending the meeting said no.

“I can understand there’s a problem here; (but) I think this is heavy-handed. I went for a drive, I seen 30 trailers around the township—and only on a few roads, not all of them. So I’m afraid we’re starting a snowball rolling downhill,” said Councillor Gordon. “Why can’t they just move them back (from the roadside)?”

Councillor Eric Russell said there should be a more specific provision in the bylaw about living in trailers.

Responding to Councillor Gordon’s concerns about having to deal with possible future trailer issues in the township, Reeve Jaggard said the bylaw is enforced on a complaint basis, rather than proactively. He added that the dog issues were what brought the discussion to the council table.

“The complaint is made larger with the other problems that have been created by it. But there is a complaint, and this is what we’re working on,” said Reeve Jaggard.

Councillor Gordon said he was worried about the enforceability of the bylaw because of the many trailers in the township.

“If we start going after people because maybe their place is untidy, well that’s another whole ball of wax right there, too, because there’s lots of untidy places in the township,” he said. “I understand where you guys are coming from 100 percent, too, by the way.”

Councillor Gordon said he had visited the site and it appeared that they were clearing land, something that indicated to him the owners may be planning to build a permanent structure.

“In order to put a trailer there while you’re building, you get permission, you get a building permit and then I think you’re allowed to have a trailer there for a short period of time. But this isn’t the situation here. Plus, it’s being compounded with the other issue,” responded Reeve Jaggard.

Councillor Lorie Leeson said the reported dog issues added importance to dealing with this case and acknowledged that it may lead to future headaches.

“It is going to be just a can of worms that’s going to get opened up because there are trailers (in the township). There are people in trailers, there are people that live all summer in trailers on lots,” said Councillor Leeson, adding that many trailers are likely acting as cottage additions or installed in remote bush properties that could only be spotted from the air.

“These guys have been here quite a number of years and it just keeps going. But they have been told before and didn’t follow it through. Now’s the time, and it should have already been done prior to this; it shouldn’t have gone this far but it has to be followed through,” she said, adding that this shouldn’t set precedence for the bylaw because the township was acting on a complaint. 

“Our building inspector’s trying to do his job, now we need to step up and do our job so that way he can do his job,” said Councillor McKenzie.

“I think if those people would take and just put them where they’re not so visible, right beside the road like that, they’re not helping themselves one bit, are they?” said Councillor Gordon.

Councillor McKenzie requested a recorded vote on the item.

“I would like to see some negotiations with these people,” said Councillor Gordon after council passed the motion.

In the recorded vote, all voting members were in favour except for Councillor Gordon, who voted against the motion.