Some Kamloops residents are learning that bylaws provide neighbours a lot of power.
Rurally, neighbours wield control for different reasons.
Brocklehurst residents Ryan Messere, Kevin Baitz and Wes Abramowicz been told by the City they’ll have to remove their temporary carports or face fines.
The trio stores a variety of items — Messere keeps a prized car under cover and Baitz uses his as a garden shed of sorts to house lawn and garden equipment.
It’s not a City-wide sweep, rather a targeted campaign driven by complaints from neighbours who, for whatever reason, want the structures gone.
Complaints about barking dogs, loud parties and unsightly premises are handled the same way in Kamloops; they’re complaints driven so if no one notices, no problem. Someone doesn’t like it and you’re under the looking glass.
Community development supervisor Randy Lambright says the fabric-covered shelters cause concerns about esthetics and safety, and he knows of one structure that blew around a neighbourhood.
But Baitz says he’s had his carport for 15 years, so perhaps it’s not the danger factor that’s prompted the removal order.
The trio, and others like them, can apply to the City for an $800 development variance permit, and then apply and pay for a building permit after that.
But people buy these structures because they’re reasonably inexpensive compared to the cost of a garage, so it seems unlikely anyone’s going to roll the dice on an $800 permit.
At root is whether your neighbours think your structure looks junky — or maybe they just don’t like you — and if so, bye-bye carport.
Out in the sticks, it’s the opposite.
The neighbours can howl about piles of rusting cars and other garbage in your yard all they like but there’s no one to hear them as bylaws about unsightly premises or even dangerous dogs (though that’s slated to come up for discussion at a future regional district workshop) don’t exist in the wilds of the TNRD.
A man out in Pinantan Lake recently called to see if we could do a story about the neighbour’s dry, towering grass and weeds licking his property line.
Not only did it look messy, he feared it was a fire hazard, wondering how quickly a blaze would spread if a match or cigarette was dropped (the neighbours smoked).
And there’s no fire service out in Pinantan, so if something sparked, he’d might be out of a house.
He found the situation frustrating, but when you live rurally, having no bylaws are great until you need one.
Keeping up good relationships with the rural neighbours is important though.
When things go wrong, you’re on your own — the stores selling replacement parts are far away, tradespeople few and costly, and there’s no taxis or transit if your car conks out.
Those are times when finding a helping hand next door can greatly easy your woes.
I’m not suggesting the Brock trio have anything other than cordial relations with their neighbours but making the point that a neighbour can make your life hell no matter where you live.
In the bylaw-less outskirts or rule-laden City, you must pick your battles because you never know when you’re going to need your neighbours — or want them to keep quiet.