Kingston homeowners will soon be able to park recreational vehicles in their own driveways for months at a time.
City council is relaxing municipal zoning bylaws to allow the storage of recreational vehicles, boats and trailers on residential driveways from April 1 to Oct. 31 every year.
“A lot of my residents are looking forward to it. There’s no doubt many people in Kingston have boats,” said Coun. Lisa Osanic.
The amendments alter a long-standing rule that previously allowed homeowners to park their recreational vehicles on a front- or side-yard driveway for no more than three days a month. The initial bylaw was put in place in part to avoid clutter and obstructed views in residential neighbourhoods.
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However, Coun. Ryan Boehme questioned the logic and fairness of the short-term parking rule.
“You can’t really own a view, in a sense. There has to be a realistic expectation if you have the space on your driveway to put a boat or motorhome,” he said. “This is what people do.”
He says it made no sense that under the previous regulation, homeowners could park four vehicles in a driveway but not a recreational vehicle.
“This is one of those instances that common sense ruled in what came out of this,” he said.
The staff recommendation followed a community petition urging the City of Kingston to rethink its restrictions on parking or storing boats, trailers and RVs on driveways, calling the 72-hour limit too restrictive.
The incoming changes will still have some restrictions, limiting boat or motorhome lengths to 8.2 metres (almost 27 feet) on driveways but listing no size restrictions for other personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicles or snowmobiles. Under the new rule, these vehicles can be parked no closer than one metre to any lot line. The city also says recreational machines cannot replace the required parking space for a private automobile.
One of the concerns to emerge during a recent council debate on the matter was that large vehicles in driveways would lead to more on-street parking.
The city reminds drivers that vehicles can only be parked on the street for a maximum of 12 consecutive hours year-round. The city also has an overnight on-street parking ban during the winter months.
Chief municipal planner Paige Agnew told council the city will be launching an education campaign and may blitz certain neighbourhoods to make homeowners aware of the changes.
“We obviously know we need to exercise some flexibility as people come to terms with these amendments in advance of the spring next year,” Agnew said.
Agnew adds there are not enough bylaw enforcement officers to measure vehicles and ensure compliance unless a direct complaint is made.
“It wouldn’t be realistic sending people around looking to ticket people. It will still be a complaint-driven system.”
The bylaw also sparked a debate about parking in the downtown area versus the suburbs.
Some inner-city councillors, who are concerned houses are too close together and there isn’t enough space on driveways or front yards to accommodate larger vehicles, asked if the urban core could be exempt from the changes.
“I just don’t think in the downtown this works,” said Coun. Rob Hutchison.
“Most people don’t want to live in a parking lot cluttered with vehicles all over the place.”
However, council decided to apply the rule changes both downtown and in the suburbs.
The new recreational parking bylaw is part of sweeping changes the city is making to driveway rules.
Homeowners will also have more flexibility to widen or extend their driveways to accommodate the extra parking demand brought on by the growth of “as of right” secondary suites being offered in single-family and semi-detached homes.
With Kingston’s rental housing shortage, the city is revamping bylaws to give homeowners permission to reconfigure driveways to accommodate second or third rental units and prevent renters from parking on the street.
The changes will allow a driveway to be widened to six metres or no more than 40 per cent of the width of the front lot, whichever is less.
Coun. Peter Stroud opposed increasing the parking capacity on residential properties.
“If we are serious about our climate change goals, we can’t be increasing parking capacity. I think we’re going in the wrong direction,” he said.
Mayor Bryan Paterson defended the new policies, saying they are designed to ease Kingston’s housing crunch.
“This bylaw intended to enable secondary suites. If we believe in climate change and intensification, this (policy) will encourage this outside the city core,” he said.