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Peeved RV owners in Maple Ridge turn to Facebook

Rusty Powers stands with his son-in-law, Anthony Lyles, by his RV, that is in violation of a city bylaw because it is too big and will have to be moved elsewhere. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Rusty Powers stands with his son-in-law, Anthony Lyles, by his RV, that is in violation of a city bylaw because it is too big and will have to be moved elsewhere.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The clampdown on recreational vehicles is still bothering people, even though the bylaw’s been on the books since 1985.

A Facebook group (Maple Ridge Bylaws) now has 84 members, people are talking about petitions and making a presentation to council to press for a review of the law.

“We’ve lived here for 25 years. We’ve had an RV ever since we lived here,” said Leeann Costa, who lives on Fir Street, just north of River Road.

“All of a sudden because somebody complained, we’ve got to rid of our RV. We’re not the only ones who got dinged on this road, all of my neighbours did.”

Costa lives on a quarter of an acre and stores the 12-metre-long RV at the side of her house. She recently got a letter from Maple Ridge’s bylaw department and learned she has remove her RV by April 20.

“Happy anniversary to me.”

Instead of the current bylaw that restricts vehicle length to 7.5 metres, the rules should consider the amount of property there is for a RV, she said. As long as you’re not interfering with anyone else, then it should be OK to have any size RV on your property, Costa added.

According to Maple Ridge bylaws director Liz Holitzky, the bylaw has been place since 1985 and limits RV size for storage to 7.5 metres, or 24.6 feet – “standard across the Lower Mainland.”

And she appreciates many people may have had their vehicles there for years without an issue, but if a complaint comes in, her department still has to enforce it.

“Certainly in the past, there hasn’t been a lot of enforcement in this area. Complaints used to come in. I don’t know how much was done.”

But there’s no concerted effort to go after RV owners. Every visit or letter is generated by a particular complaint.

“We’re not doing any pro-active enforcement on this.”

What is happening is that as bylaw officers move through an area, neighbours who get a letter turn around and complain against somebody else. “If you’re going to pick on me, what about that one there?” Holitzky explained.

Neither is one person making the majority of complaints, she said. That does happen sometimes, but if that’s the case, the complaints go to the bottom of the pile. So far, the district has had about 80 complaints, but she doesn’t know how many letters have gone out asking people to move their vehicles.

The letters are being sent to all parts of the municipality and the district is trying to work with homeowners to find alternative sites.

Rusty Powers, who lives on 121st Avenue, has a 10-metre-long vehicle at the side of his house that’s already caught the attention of the bylaws department, which told him it would be sending a letter asking him to move it. He’s got a cottage in Birch Bay, where he’ll relocate it.

He’ll sign any petition calling for a review. “What do you own property for if you can’t park your own rig?”

As long as you’re not interfering with your neighbours, you should be able to park any kind of RV on your property, he says.

Long-time Hammond resident Eric Phillips wonders what’s behind the “flurry of enforcement” in his neighbourhood.

“They’re not going to turn lower Hammond into West Vancouver no matter how hard they try.”

He’s lived in Hammond for 30 years and said there’s always somebody with a messy yard. And there’s no storage facility in Maple Ridge for RVs, he pointed out.

One neighbour was working on an El Camino and had to get rid of it. “They scared him into removing it,” Phillips said.

And somebody else had to take down a tarp from a roof, he added.

Concerned neighbours were to meet at district council Tuesday to figure out a strategy for getting a review of the bylaw.

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