Billings council gives approval for second reading of trailer bylaw, with amendments

Billings’ proposed trailer fees bylaw has drawn criticism from some councillors and ratepayers who worry the legislation may result in too many restrictions for property owners in the township. Shutterstock

KAGAWONG – Billings Township council passed second reading of its newly revised trailer bylaw, a proposed bylaw that councillors say is less restrictive than the current bylaw. And, as part of the second reading, council made a few amendments to the bylaw, including reducing the amount of the permit fee for having a recreational trailer/vehicle on a vacant lot.

“The last issue I would like to raise is in regards to the fee structure on the class A permit where we had a figure set of $1,200 for the permit fee,” Billings Mayor Ian Anderson told a council meeting last week. The class A permit is for a vacant lot and recreational trailer/vehicle. 

“I know we have discussed this as council, and it has been indicated that for someone to have their trailer at a campground for a summer season, this would be less than storing a trailer at a park,” said Mayor Anderson. “But I was thinking that $1,200 is a lot of money, especially when people have purchased a property where the trailer will be located. I’m wondering if we should go with a permit fee of $800 instead of $1,200.” 

“If you set up a trailer in a commercial trailer park, the permit fee would be much more,” said Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack. “If you purchase property and then pay the trailer fee you are looking at a cost of about $2,500. I am not against lowering the permit fees.”

“I agree it should be at $800,” said Councillor Michael Hunt. 

“I would also like to see this lowered to $800. It would be a fair amount,” said Councillor Sharon Jackson.  

Councillor Bryan Barker questioned the reason that this decrease was being considered, or the thoughts on the proposed permit being excessive in cost.

“In the extensive research I’ve done the past week and a half, compared to other areas $750-1,000 permit is the average for a similar class A permit,” said Mayor Anderson.  

“I agree,” said Councillor Barker. He questioned, “for clarification, section 2.8 covers trailers stored on principal residences. I’ve had queries on it.”

 Section 2.8 states, “recreational trailers/vehicles that are stored on properties that one principal habitable residences must be stored in a manner consistent with section 1.12 of this bylaw.” And, under section 1.12 it reads, “storage means being in a closed and disconnected state unsuitable for human habitation, with window awnings closed, extensions retracted and all water, power and sewage supply lines disconnected.”

“It is allowed,” said Councillor Barker. “I’ve received more than one clarification on this.”

However, Councillor Barker said, “the 14-day limit for guests is a concern (among several members of the public). That provision has always been there.”

Councillor Sharon Jackson said, “as I indicated at our last council meeting, I am not in favour of permit C. However, I appear to be the only one on council against this. I still don’t feel a couple of the permits are warranted, but that is my opinion.” 

Mayor Anderson noted the municipality’s bylaw is very consistent with other municipalities in providing for the 14-day limit. “This is a widespread policy throughout Northern Ontario. Someone wanted no restrictions and others have suggested 14 days are not enough. I had the suggestion from someone that maybe we could look at changing this to 21 days. Does the 14 days limit work, should we leave it as is or increase it?”

“For the matter of consistency with other municipalities in the North, I would like this to stay at a limit of 14 days,” said Councillor Barker. “I am not opposed to keeping this at 14 days.”

“I’m good with 14 days or 21,” said Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack. “The 14-day limit is consistent with other bylaws. Whichever council agrees to, 14 or 21 days I would support.”

“When we are talking about permit C, I don’t like that one at all. I don’t think we should have it in the bylaw,” said Councillor Jackson.

“I see the rationale with staying with a 14-day limit,” said Mayor Anderson. “It would provide consistency with other municipalities on Manitoulin, and almost all Northern Ontario municipalities. I’m content to leave it at that.”

Counillor Alkenbrack said, “A lot of people think this is a whole new bylaw we are looking at. But we have had one in place since about 1976 with periodic revisions having been made. And the bylaw we currently have is much stricter than this proposed one.”

“You are absolutely correct when you comment the current bylaw is much more restrictive,” said Mayor Anderson. 

Bylaw enforcement officer Arthur Moran said that he would make the revisions proposed at the meeting last week for council’s consideration of third reading of the bylaw. 

“The whole intent of all of this is not to take away the use of trailers in the township but provide for a fairer system,” said Mayor Anderson. “With the influx of traffic the Island has seen in the past couple of years, it also means more demands on things like wear and tear on our roads and use of the landfill (and increased cost). There has been enough interest in this issue that other municipalities on the Island have also been discussing the trailer issue and it may come to the Manitoulin Municipal Association. Over the past couple of years, there has been an influx of tourist traffic and trailer use. It is probably inevitable that we all look at this together to find a fair equitable solution for everyone.”

Council passed a motion approving second reading of the bylaw, with only councillor Jackson opposing the motion.