Owners of vacant lots on Hastings have brought in camping trailers for recreational purposes. Property owners on Hastings whose cottages survived oppose this, as do environmentalists who feel Hastings should be given over to wildlife.
In June, a majority of Norfolk councillors decided it was time to ease restrictions on recreational uses along Hastings. They directed staff to prepare an interim control bylaw that would give council the power to override the current zoning for a maximum of two years. The planning department did not deliver on this Tuesday. Principal planner Mary Elder explained that the zoning issue on Hastings is so complex and contentious that there is little point in proceeding with an interim control bylaw. Provisions regarding Hastings in Norfolk's new zoning bylaw have already attracted three appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board. Elder suggested an interim bylaw is a waste of resources, adding staff time is better spent crafting a process that will produce zoning provisions the county can defend at the OMB.
The situation has frustrated Luke because – as it stands – a trailer for human habitation on a vacant lot anywhere in Norfolk is illegal. As far as the mayor is concerned, if council does not pass an interim control bylaw, the county is obliged to move on to enforcement. “I want our bylaw officers to begin enforcing our bylaws,” Luke said, adding he will seek a legal opinion on the matter if staff continues to sit on its hands.
Norfolk CAO Keith Robicheau and Pam Duesling, Norfolk's manager of community planning, countered that the way forward is murky. Duesling cited Ontario case law which has determined that camping trailers are considered vehicles and not structures under the Ontario Building Code. As such, Duesling says Norfolk's enforcement options may be limited.