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Commercial vehicles in residential areas



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The Connection got it wrong. Although it ran a story with the headline, "Council allows commercial vehicles to park in residential areas," it didn't happen that way.

What happened was that council discussed terms of reference for a proposed new bylaw about parking commercial vehicles in residential areas, trying to determine what exactly describes a "commercial" vehicle for the purposes of the bylaw.

The bylaw will be drafted by staff and come forward for further discussion next month (I believe).

What council attempted to wrestle in place were the terms and definitions to draft that bylaw.

At present, basically anything with a company logo on it, regardless of size or weight, is a commercial vehicle, and can't be parked at a residence. That means - and I raised this concern - everyday vehicles used by real estate agents, surveyors, plumbers, electricians, lawn care people and so on are not allowed to be parked in the owner's home driveway. Since most of these vehicles are simply pickup trucks, SUVs, vans and the like that would not raise a single eyebrow if parked there without a logo, it seems to be to be very business-hostile to forbid them simply because they have a logo on them.

I've seen a lot of this sort of vehicle around town and most of them are smaller than a Hummer. Does it make sense to ban a labelled van while allowing some ugly gas-guzzling, but unmarked, behemoth to park nearby? And what about those daft mud-bogger and monster pickups - can we allow them while not permitting smaller vehicles, simply because the mud-boggers have no logos on them? There are too many possible inconsistencies.

But then, I asked, what about the many people in town who don't work in a store or office, but make their living on the go - plumbers, tow-truck drivers, small carpenters, painters, handymen and lawn care entrepreneurs? They work from their vehicles. Those vehicles may be larger than the average household car.

And those vehicles may often double as personal vehicles in off-business hours. Does one have to have a second vehicle to go grocery shopping?

If they can't park them in town, where can they go? They can't park overnight in town parking lots (that's another bylaw). They can't park along most streets. If they don't have a company lot, where can they go? To Nottawa? To Stayner? How would you feel if, late one night, you called for a tow truck, but had to wait an hour while the tow truck driver drove out of town to get his or her vehicle? How would you feel if you smelled gas in your house and called for an emergency gas service, only to have to wait while the service person drove to Nottawa to pick up the truck?

Pretty anti-business, that strikes me. But there are a few on council who would ban anything bigger than a pickup truck from residential driveways, most notably Councillor Foley. The rest of us struggled to come up with a reasonable size and weight definition that would allow such businesses and entrepreneurs to have their vehicles at home, while not creating eyesores for the neighbours. And it's not like there are thousands of these vehicles around - only a handful.

Keep in mind that the parking bylaw already prohibits people from parking on the sidewalk (a prohibition seemingly ignored in my end of town - I'm always having to walk off the sidewalk and into the street to get past some car parked on the sidewalk. Imagine how people with a mobility impairment must feel!). So a big vehicle can't park over the sidewalk or over the property line. Which means you need a driveway long enough to accommodate a commercial vehicle.

We also tried to choose a size that was a compromise between residential sensitivities and business needs. Collingwood has often been declared "closed for business" as a result of some previous action or bylaw, so we really don't need to blacken our reputation further by making it more difficult - if not impossible - for small businesses and entrepreneurs to operate from home (especially in the current recession).

At the same time, we don't want neighbourhoods filled with 18-wheelers or large trucks.

Council voted to allow one commercial vehicle - with size restrictions - per home. A commercial vehicle can be a maximum of 3.2 metres (about 10 feet) high and 7.5 metres (about 24 feet) long and can weigh 8845 kgs.

Counc. Sonny Foley was not in favour of the motion. He said vehicles of this size should not be in a residential area.

This would allow for extended cab pickup trucks, tow trucks and a 20-foot moving truck.

Well, we didn't vote to allow anything. What we voted for was to have that size and weight included in the bylaw, which will then come forward for further debate and final vote. Council still has the opportunity to lower (or raise) that limit.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that we need balance that suits everyone's needs.

So the issue is still open for discussion, and is not final until the bylaw is passed. Send council your comments and we will consider all of them.





Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but my reading of the report indicated only one commercial vehicle of the allowed weight and dimensions would be allowed per house. What happens if a husband and wife each own a business and have a vehicle - does the town only allow one of them to have a vehicle?

It seems to me there are other, more important issues to be tackling then whether someone's car or truck has a logo on it... and is - heaven forefend - parked in a driveway...
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Ian Chadwick
May 25 2009 06:18 AM

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but my reading of the report indicated only one commercial vehicle of the allowed weight and dimensions would be allowed per house. What happens if a husband and wife each own a business and have a vehicle - does the town only allow one of them to have a vehicle?

It seems to me there are other, more important issues to be tackling then whether someone's car or truck has a logo on it... and is - heaven forefend - parked in a driveway...

This is why I gave the example of two real estate agents in the same household, both driving vehicles with logos. One of the ways around that issue is to define commercial vehicles not by signage but by the Ministry of Transport's weight categories. Much of council also wanted to limit sizes. We clearly don't want dump trucks, earth movers or 18-wheelers parked in residential zones, and from comments I've received since the story was published, residents are worried that will happen. But what size is acceptable?

And what about those residents who own small backhoes and similar equipment? Are they commercial? If we ban them - where do they go?

This has become a hot topic. A lot of residents are talking to me, and sending emails about it. Some are angry we would allow ANY commercial vehicles in residential areas, others are angry that we won't allow any because their livelihood depends on it. People are sometimes not very tolerant - or perhaps cognizant - of their neighbours' work, or their personal concerns, it seems. There is a lot of anger in those responses.

I have a neighbour who has both a backhoe, and a small dumptruck, that are often parked at his house on my street. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if they're there - the guy's earning an honest living. Like I said, we should stop trying to be like Reston...
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Ian Chadwick
Jun 04 2009 06:34 PM

This is the proverbial shit storm. There are many emails flying around from both sides. I find those opposed to the bylaw a lot more shrill than those supportive of it.

There seems to be a scare tactic being used - including flyers in mailboxes. People are being threatened with lower property values, with noise, bad views, fumes and worse. I still say we have to consider the working people in this community. Where, I have asked those who contacted me, do they expect these people will park? And when they have to park outside town - it's illegal to park these vehicles on the streets and in municipal lots overnight - would YOU be willing to wait another 30-60 minutes for one of these people to answer an emergency call because he or she has to drive to Nottawa or further to get the vehicle and drive back?

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