Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Year round car shelters for Timmins?

City council is planning to change the Timmins zoning bylaw to allow for portable car shelters to be set up on residential properties all year round.
Because the issue has stirred up controversy for and against the shelters, council has passed first and second reading of the bylaw. The third and final reading could take place in two weeks time depending on public feedback.
Council debated the issue at a committee of the whole meeting Monday on the recommendation of the planning department, which has received comments for and against the shelters.
Because car shelters are considered tents under the Ontario Building Code, building permits are not required, but the shelters are still regulated by the zoning bylaw.
Up until now, the shelters had been allowed as temporary winter shelters for car owners, between October 1 and April 30. This allowance in the bylaw occurred in 1987.
The shelters must not extend beyond any property line and must be securely anchored to the ground.
What has happened in Timmins in recent years is that residents throughout the city have erected portable shelters and have left them up year round, in contravention of the bylaw. Also, shelters are now made in various sizes to accommodate boats, snowmobiles, ATVs and lawn tractors.
Bylaw officers who ordered residents to remove the shelters in the summer months, have faced numerous complaints. Just as numerous were the complaints from neighbors who feel such shelters are unsightly, unsafe and cheap-looking.
Council has decided to move to the middle ground. Shelters will be allowed year round provided they are placed in the back yard during the summer months.
There may be exceptions to the rule, to allow for shelters to be placed in the front area, or a sideyard, on a year round basis. This will require permission from the city’s Committee of Adjustment. It costs $350 to seek permission. Despite the cost, there is no guarantee the committee will grant permission. City Clerk Jack Watson told council that all applications to the Committee of Adjustment require that the neighbors have to be notified.
If the neighbors have any concerns about the car shelter, Watson says “that will weigh heavily” on the decision made by the committee. Watson says the neighbors will decide what the neighborhood looks like.

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