One person made 100 Maple Ridge complaints

Changes now to bylaw process

The springtime of discontent over recreational vehicles and where people can and cannot park them can be traced to a single complainant.

Actually, more than 100 of them, in the last few months, according to public works general manager Frank Quinn.

“There was one in particular that did a significant amount of complaints,” more than 100, he said last week.

“The majority of how this got to where it is was a significant amount of complaints from one guy or girl.”

That in turn sparked more complaints from neighbours unhappy with a visit from the bylaws officer, who in turn made their own complaints against others. Maple Ridge’s bylaw administration is based on complaints. Other than downtown, the district doesn’t proactively enforce its bylaws.

The controversy is the reason why Maple Ridge told staff to look at the entire topic with staff returning with proposals to streamline the bylaw complaint process by limiting the complaint radius to 100 metres and allowing no more than three complaints per person per year.

“When you have no policy on it, your domino effect can take place,” Quinn said.

“So that’s exactly what took place. There was no proactive enforcement on RVs, it was all generated on a complaint basis.”

One of the goals expressed at council is to make any new bylaw as clear and unambiguous as possible in order to remove the discretion and decision making from bylaw officers and make their jobs easier.

That’s welcomed by staff, Quinn said.

“We feel there needs to be less ambiguity and more transparency out there to make this work.”

The resulting visits by bylaw officers to homes about RVs that had been parked in one spot for years sparked discontent, letters to the editor and the creation of a Facebook group as neighbours pushed back and told the district to back off.

In preparing the report, bylaws staff looked at eight neighbouring cities. But Quinn noted that some people have called the district asking them to keep the bylaw in place exactly the way it is, limiting the length of RVs stored in the suburbs to 7.5 metres.

Staff point out that no residents have been ticketed for improperly storing an RV or for keeping one larger than 7.5 metres.

Council ordered suspension of any removal orders for RVs until a new bylaw is in place.