Highlands East looks to control tents and trailers

by Sue Tiffin

Published Feb. 13 2018

Investigating tents and travel trailers parked on vacant property has been a never-ending task in Highlands East according to the region’s bylaw enforcement officer who suggested enacting a tent and trailer bylaw to deal with the issue. ”These investigations are very time consuming and ultimately costly to pursue” said Wayne Galloway in his report to council. Galloway told council on Feb. 7 that there were 18 trailers investigated in 2017.

“The majority of these incidents have involved non-waterfront rural properties” reads his report. “The majority of people that I have spoken with in regards to the trailers have advised me that they eventually plan on building either a dwelling or hunting camp on the property however due to the purchase of the property they are financially unable to proceed at the present time.”

Galloway said most builds on vacant lots were said to be planned for three to five years in the future.
Currently the only enforcement method to have the trailers removed is through court action through the Provincial Offences Court or the Superior Court which can cost the municipality thousands of dollars.

Galloway looked to a similar bylaw in Wollaston township which requires a licence for tents and trailers to be placed on specifically designated zoned properties under specific conditions. Galloway suggested a similar bylaw in Highlands East which he said offers “another tool in the toolbox” for enforcement.

“The enactment of a tent and trailer bylaw would not only provide an alternative enforcement method but could increase the finances of the municipality through the issuance of tent and trailer licences” wrote Galloway. “While speaking with the Wollaston Township CAO it was mentioned that the real estate agents really like this bylaw as it allows them to market vacant property more readily.”

In relation to the municipality’s strategic plan Galloway said allowing trailers to be placed on vacant properties would attract visitors to the area allowing people to experience rural living in short-term housing while potentially drawing them to one day build on the property. He said the licence fee would be cheaper than the cost of parking in a trailer park but would be similar to paying taxes.

“A trailer that is licenced would have to provide an acceptable plan to deal with waste water and sewage that is not present today” noted Galloway in the report to council. “Whether the bylaw is expanded to include a required sewage system or not the licensing system would identify a plan to deal with both waste water and sewage.”

Councillors questioned whether tents needed to be included in the bylaw and whether residents would have to get a permit to have family and friends camp in their backyard. Galloway said the bylaw would apply to dwellings on otherwise vacant land but that discussion on whether or not tents be included in the bylaw he was proposing was welcomed.

“[I want to] get your feelings on it and see where you want to go” he said.

Council asked for a draft bylaw that addressed their concerns regarding tents.