It’s big business in communities across the United States and elsewhere and depending on Osoyoos Council discussion this morning, it might be on its way here as well.
It’s the commercialization of on-street recreational vehicle parking.
Town Council this morning will be asked to explore bylaw changes that would allow for the overnight parking of RVs — motorhomes, trailers and other vehicles — on residential streets.
It’s a change that has the potential to choke many Osoyoos streets as homeowners start to take advantage of the new “real estate” that might open up for them in front of their homes.
Right now, the Town’s Traffic Control Bylaw prohibits the parking of RVs on any street unless in emergency situations, for more than two hours.
But writes Janette Van Vianen, the Town’s Director of Corporate Services, in a report to Council, since the bylaw was adopted there have been many requests or situations for special consideration of parking RVs in town.
“Private residences have asked for 24-hour permits to allow them to load and unload as two hours is not usually sufficient,” she explains. “There have also been requests from residents who have family passing through and will be staying in their home but need to park their RV somewhere during their stay.
Hence the review by Osoyoos Council.
“This will allow residents to host family overnight while not blocking or using valuable parking areas and allowing staff to issue for longer stays with limitations.”
On the surface, it’s a great idea, the local government providing convenience to residents that should increase local visitation and make it easier for family and friends to get together.
The only stipulation is those parking their RVs cannot plug in services, usually a dead giveaway that someone is occupying a unit and bedding down for the night.
And there’s the problem: anything up to 24 hours is permit-free, meaning visitors can come and go as they please and no one at Town Hall will none the wiser.
Sooner or later, someone’s going to figure out there are a few bucks to be made quietly renting out RV parking spaces in front of their home.
It’s a problem elsewhere — just watch the video below — and it will be a problem here if Council moves the program forward.
Perhaps the simple solution is to require a permit for parking no longer than 24 hours as well. If someone knows family and friends are coming, they can prepare by getting a permit. That way, staff can monitor permit usage and quickly determine patterns that suggest a potential commercial use.
But there’s another issue that street-parking RVs will create.
What do you do with RVs parked on opposite but direct sides of a road or lane that all but choke the road and render it nearly impassable — at least by two vehicles at the same time?
I’ve seen RVs parked on Nighthawk that make travel down that road awkward. I’m sure there are roads and avenues in the community that are even narrower and will cause grief to neighbours.
The alternative is to create an RV lot — for parking, not camping — another option Council might review this morning.
Specifically, staff is asking Council to direct it “to prepare an amendment to Off-Street Parking Bylaw No. 1274, 2010 to designate a small portion of the boat trailer parking lot for visitor RV parking.”
The paid parking would only for up to seven days and require a permit from the Town.
It’ll mean less space for boat trailers, but at least the RVs are off the road and in a storage yard.
Council has a third option — directing staff to not make any changes to either bylaw.
Sure, a few folks might have to figure out what to do with their motorhome when they come to stay with family and friends, but otherwise, our system isn’t broken.
Why then are we trying to fix it?