Derelict vehicles an issue in Port

  • Nov. 18, 2009 2:00 p.m.

The definition of a derelict vehicle was up for debate Monday night in Port Clements, as council members read a letter from an irate resident who did not appreciate the village’s offer to help him get rid of an unlicensed bus. G.S. Johnson said his bus is not a “derelict vehicle”, that he cannot build a garage to house it because he is a renter, and that there is nowhere else on his property to park it but right out along Bayview Drive. Mr. Johnson was replying to a letter sent by the village last month to all residents with derelict vehicles on their properties, offering financial assistance to get the wrecks to the landfill, which now has room for them. The huge number of junky cars in Port yards (public works staff counted more than 100 recently) has long been a concern for many residents, who say it’s a tourist turn-off. The village’s letter also warned that Port’s zoning bylaws, which prohibit storage of derelict vehicles, will be more strictly enforced in the future. Mr. Johnson said the fact his vehicle is not licenced does not automatically make it derelict, and that he regularly uses the bus because it has a propane stove, propane fridge and power generator, which he needs during power outages. For council members, the letter illustrated a few of the obstacles on the path to beautifying Port Clements. Councillor Greg Stewart said he agreed with some of Mr. Johnson’s points, and suggested that the village’s bylaw might need to be clarified. “It’s an unsightly situation,” he added. “I think we need to be careful where we go with this.” Right now, the bylaw defines a derelict vehicle as one which has not been licenced for a year or more, and which is not housed in a garage or carport. According to administrator Heather Nelson-Smith, the bylaw does allow residents to keep a house trailer or a camper on their property. If Mr. Johnson is using the vehicle as a motor home, he could store it there without violating the bylaw, she said. Some council members wondered if the spot where Mr. Johnson has parked the bus might be on the road right-of-way, and therefore an issue for the Ministry of Highways or the RCMP to deal with. “Is the bus sitting on his property or highways property?” said councillor Cam Traplin. “I think we should go the other route, check it out and see if it’s on the right of way.” After some discussion, council members voted to receive and file Mr. Johnson’s letter.