ASSIGINACK – Following its initial debut late last fall, the proposed Assiginack travel trailer statute, Bylaw 20-14, was again brought up for discussion and eventually passed, with the end goal of the new bylaw coming into effect for January of next year.
Councillor Rob Maguire asked to speak on the bylaw, saying that while he believed in its principles, but considering the pandemic, he felt that the timing was wrong. He asked council to consider tabling the bylaw due to the “number of unknowns,” including ratepayers dealing with fiscal hardships. “In my stomach, this is the wrong time.”
Councillor Dave McDowell asked about the bylaw implementation time. CAO Alton Hobbs explained that it was originally to be June, but six months from adoption by council would be more likely.
“I think we need to go ahead,” Councillor McDowell said. “I think we need something in place sooner than later.” He noted that he has heard from two people from the Bruce Peninsula, where there are strict no trailer bylaws in place, who have deicide to move their trailers to Assiginack, “because there is nothing in place here. I think we need to move now.”
Councillor Maguire said he agreed with Councillor McDowell, but again noted the “issues surrounding the pandemic” concerning him. “My preference is to table it to issues related to the pandemic and encourage people to build,” suggesting council also work on micro-home and sea container home bylaws.
Councillor Hugh Moggy said he would like to see the bylaw’s timeline extended and not approved until after the summer.
“Can we pass the bylaw for January 1, 2022?” Councillor McDowell asked.
“I think things could evolve in the context of between now and then,” Councillor Maguire said. “We don’t have a crystal ball; we don’t know what will happen with COVID-19 between now and then.”
Councillor Moggy suggested not giving the bylaw second reading until 2022.
Councillor Jones proposed tabling the bylaw until July, agreeing with Councillor Maguire regarding the stress people are currently facing. Councillor Jones also spoke to the stress relief and positive mental health outcomes being at one’s trailer can have.
Councillor McDowell said he doesn’t disagree, but if they want to give taxpayers fair warning, “dragging it out doesn’t help.” He encouraged council to pass the bylaw, to come into effect for next year, to allow people plenty of time to prepare for 2022.
Mayor Dave Ham and Councillor Moggy agreed.
“If things change, we don’t have to implement it on that date,” Councillor Moggy said.
The mayor said he had a lengthy discussion with Tehkummah Reeve Dave Jaggard on the subject who said the neighbouring municipality might be interested in working with Assiginack to run parallel trailer bylaws.
Councillor Jones said the Manitoulin Planning Board is also exploring travel trailer fees and whether municipalities can place unpaid fees on tax bills.
Mr. Hobbs said he has also looked into this. The municipal lawyer said they were doubtful this could be done, but the Municipal Act states otherwise. The matter can always go before court too, the CAO added, if the need arises.
The trailer permit fee will be $750 per year and the trailer licence bylaw also includes a schedule of fines for eight separate penalties under the Provincial Offences Act.
A motion was carried to enact the travel trailer bylaw, effective January 1, 2022.