Maple Ridge is considering temporary tent permits after receiving numerous complaints about its bylaw enforcement.
On Monday, council agreed to pursue a permitting process that would allow residents to keep tents on their property, contrary to the district’s current zoning bylaw. Councillors could set requirements and conditions on permits with respect to time frames and the number of tents permitted on each property.
Bylaws director Liz Holitzski said tents are currently being used to store vehicles and boats, as well as yard and household items. These temporary structures are considered a public hazard as they don’t meet snow or wind load requirements. Should a car or boat housed in the tent get damaged by snow or wind, the insurance claim could also be nullified.
“If people are not living underneath the tents, then it’s not a hazard,” said Coun. Linda King. “It may cause property damage, but that would be damage to the individual’s own property. The municipality wouldn’t be culpable in any way.”
Couns. Cheryl Ashlie and Judy Dueck compared fully enclosed tents to auxiliary buildings and argued they don’t belong in front yards, while Couns. Michael Morden and Craig Speirs suggested tents only be permitted in back yards.
“It’s my feeling that what you do in your backyard is your business as long as it meets the tidy and sightly guidelines,” said Morden. “I think it’s fair to regulate what the community sees. What’s happening in the back doesn’t need to be looked at in the same way.”
Mayor Ernie Daykin asked staff to confirm whether tent permits would cause any liabilities for the district, and find out what resources and potential costs would be associated with this system.