Sundridge council limits camper trailer usage

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If you’re building a home in Sundridge and plan to live in a camping trailer while carrying out construction, you will now face several restrictions.

At some point in the future, the municipality will introduce a bylaw regulating how camper trailers are used in connection with housing construction.

However, since a bylaw will take some time to come into force and with building season now here, council passed a resolution covering the temporary use of camper trailers when used as accommodations while home construction is underway.

In introducing the resolution, Coun. Steve Hicks acknowledged “there are some people out there who feel we are treading upon their freedoms.”

But Hicks said the debate is not about freedoms.

Hicks said because the municipality currently doesn’t have any regulations governing the use of camper trailers, “it allows people to make some very poor decisions.

“Some decisions are not sustainable and some decisions could potentially affect their health,” Hicks told his council colleagues.

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Bylaw enforcement officer Jason Newman told council recently some trailers are not designed to be occupied below certain temperatures.

Newman first raised the issue to regulate the use of camper trailers as temporary quarters during housing construction at council’s April 14 meeting.

He said the municipality has seen a lot of development in recent years and much more construction is expected this year. That development has resulted in people living in camper trailers while their homes are under construction.

Newman told council development is most welcome, but there is a need to make sure the practice of living in camper trailers during a construction project does not create problems.

A major restriction is a camper trailer cannot be occupied between Nov. 1 and May 1 in the following year.

There’s a question of safety if someone lives in a trailer over the winter.

Under the resolution, anyone living in the trailer has to ensure it’s equipped with safety devices as required under the Ontario Fire Prevention and Protection Act of 1997.

If there’s a generator in the trailer, the occupant has to make sure it complies with the municipality’s noise bylaw.

The trailer also has to be in good working order and must include sewage holding facilities that will be emptied as the need arises.

The occupant will have to secure a 12-month permit from the chief building official to be able to live in the trailer. The permit will cost $250 to cover administrative expenses.

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When it’s put on the lot where construction will occur, the trailer has to be in compliance with setback rules.

The municipality also has the right to revoke trailer use.

Coun. Steve Rawn was concerned the administrative fee of $250 was too high and wanted it lowered to $100.

Rawn argued the municipality was trying to encourage people to build.

He said people would be buying materials locally, thereby supporting businesses in the municipality, and would later pay property taxes.

“I think it leaves a bad taste to the person building,” Rawn said about the administrative fee.

However, Rawn lost that debate when there was no interest on the part of councillors to lower the fee to $100.

Rawn also wondered if the trailer occupant could connect to the municipality’s sewer system while building, making it unnecessary to leave a site in order to empty a trailer’s sewage holding tanks.

Mayor Lyle Hall said it wasn’t possible, while deputy mayor Shawn Jackson noted that a private service does come on site to pump out raw sewage.

One argument Rawn did win was the requirement for the trailer to be properly set back on the lot according to existing regulations.

Rawn pointed out that in some cases, the size of a lot may not allow for this.

The resolution was modified to allow staff or the bylaw enforcement officer to grant exceptions to the setback if needed.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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