A Vernon couple living in an RV on ALR land scored a win Monday as city council passed a motion that will end the fines they have been racking up.
Council was divided, but ultimately voted to bring city recreational vehicle living rules into alignment with Agricultural Land Commission rules.
Coun. Brian Guy and Mayor Victor Cumming dissented after Guy brought forward health and safety concerns with allowing RV dwelling. Coun. Kelly Fehr was not at Monday’s meeting, but the rest of council voted to pass the motion.
There was much discussion about how involved the city should be in the health and safety of RV dwellings. The big concerns were over waste management and electrical hook up safety. Guy also raised concerns over landlords taking advantage of people who can’t afford anything else living in “ramshackle,” unsafe RV’s.
Council went through multiple options of how to oversee RV regulations, including issuing temporary use permits. But was all moot when council agreed to pass a staff recommendation that regulations align with the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s 1.0 hectare policy.
Coun. Akbal Mund reminded council of the possibility of tweaking the rules going forward if issues arise.
The decision is good news to at least one Vernon couple.
Lee Watkins and wife Sondra have been living in an RV on Sondra’s parent's ALR land and have racked up about $3,000 in fines from the city.
Watkins says he’s relieved, saying it took “some community pressure and quite a few news articles,” but he’s thankful council listened to the community in the end.
“(I'm) just happy that tomorrow, we're not gonna get another bylaw officer rolling into the cul de sac … and no longer have to worry about when more tickets are gonna come,” said Watkins.
“Bylaw was still visiting and coming by every Wednesday and Saturday for this entire month.”
Mund suggested waiving the fines the Watkins have accumulated.
Watkins says they have received 13 tickets at $250 apiece, some of which have past due fines on them as well.
Mund put forward a notice of motion to bring back to council more information about waiving the fees.