Permanent recreational vehicles draw CRD attention

Hawkins Lake resident voices concern about waste disposal of RVs and affect on water quality

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The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) board is investigating permanently located recreational vehicles (RVs) on properties with no primary residence.

CRD chair Al Richmond says bylaw enforcement deals with permanent structures affixed to RVs or freestanding construction through its building inspection and permit process.

Certain non-permanent structures are allowed under the bylaws with size restrictions, he notes, beyond which anything constructed requires a building permit.

After recently receiving a letter from a Hawkins Lake resident concerned about increasing numbers of permanent RVs and associated structures in her neighbourhood, the board determined some of this is an issue for the Interior Health Authority (IHA), Richmond explains.

The primary concern stated in the letter is the disposal of waste and the impact it may have on the quality of water in Hawkins Lake.

The growing problem was discussed at the November meeting, as outlined in a staff report that states it is “a very common complaint within the district.”

The report describes how many property owners bring RVs to camp on their property, but get tired of moving them back and forth and end up leaving them there all year.

Then structures are gradually added, and the more permanent these units become, the less likely they are to comply with health regulations for approved disposal systems.

The report also states that when the RVs are covered with structures, they often lose the ability to be towed to appropriate disposal stations.

The directors resolved to ask IHA to investigate health concerns associated with improper disposal of RV waste on lakeside properties and the resulting impact on the quality of water, also requesting a response.

“We’ll be writing the health authority which is responsible for ensuring these places have … sewage treatment.”

The board also issued a public notification identifying that many of these situations contravene bylaws.

Richmond explains RVs cannot legally be stored year-round on a property unless there is also a house or cabin on the lot with an adequate septic system.

When people inform the CRD of permanent structures, he notes, the bylaw officer will respond to these and other complaints.

It is “just not practical” for IHA or the CRD to proactively search out related infractions, he explains, as both have tens of thousands of square kilometres to cover.

“It’s going to have to be complaint driven. Interior Health also isn’t going to drive around looking for them.”

Richmond adds that, when asked by the bylaw officer, most people have pulled down illegal permanent structures or moved off their RVs for the required six months per year.