Abandoned vehicle leads resident to seek changes in parking bylaw

February 13, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

An Orangeville resident is calling on Council to amend its parking bylaw ahead of the spring thaw in an attempt to fix what she described as a loophole that currently, allows individuals to leave vehicles on municipal roads indefinitely in warmer  months. 

Karen Vehkavaara was more than a little peeved last summer when she was forced to clean up around a car that had been left abandoned in front of her Rayburn Road home. 

“The Town’s existing parking bylaw permits plated vehicles with valid tags to be parked indefinitely on residential streets. While most vehicle owners only leave vehicles parked temporarily while away on vacation, or while trying to sell it, the lack of time restrictions from this bylaw may result in an owner leaving the vehicle unmoved for up to eight months,” Ms. Vehkavaara told Council.

Currently, Orangeville residents are permitted to park their cars on municipal streets overnight from April 1 to Dec. 1. 

Unfortunately, Ms. Vehkavaara states, the bylaw doesn’t specify how long someone can keep a car parked in the same spot over the spring, summer and fall months. As such, there is little recourse for local residents who may run into issues with vehicles being abandoned in front of their property.

While Ms. Vehkavaara reported the vehicle to both the Town’s bylaw department and Orangeville Police Service last year, nothing was done until the Town’s winter parking bylaw kicked in on Dec. 1, 2019. 

“I spoke to a police officer, who came out to the scene. He told me he was not aware of the (Town’s parking) bylaw and he’d have to contact the bylaw office to find out for sure. He did say if the car was plated and had valid tags, from what he understood, it could be left there indefinitely,” Ms. Vehkavaara recalled. “He contacted the Town the next week to find out that’s correct.”

She pointed out several instances where the abandoned vehicle impacted both herself and her neighbourhood last year. First, Ms. Vehkavaara spent hours cleaning up debris, leaves, garbage and sand that was trapped around the vehicle.

“It was preventing proper drainage into the sewer system,” she said. “Many times I had to go out and sweep and clean the area to allow rain water to drain properly.”

She watched on numerous times as the Town’s street sweeper was forced to forego a portion of Rayburn Road, unable to manoeuvre around the vehicle. Ms. Vehkavaara also questioned how an abandoned vehicle could impact homeowners from loading and unloading items from their cars into their homes, noting the issue could be particularly difficult for seniors, or people with disabilities, who rely on the pathway leading up to their front door.

“In addition to these issues, if the vehicle is damaged, rusty, or leaking oil, it is an eyesore to the neighbourhood and can also damage the road, especially if it’s parked for eight months like in my situation,” she added. “I would like to see time restrictions imposed for parking on residential streets from April 1 to Dec. 1.”

Council, by and large, appeared supportive of Ms. Vehkavaara’s request, with Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh in particular stating he agreed with her “one hundred percent”. He asked the Town’s Clerk Karen Landry, who looks after the municipal bylaw department, what the current course of action would be to deal with cars abandoned in town.

“In a case like this, if the vehicle is plated and parked there for a significant amount of time, we can send staff out to determine if the vehicle is actually moving. If it’s been abandoned for a solid six-month period, I would suggest contacting the police to investigate it further. At that point, we would consider it abandoned,” Ms. Landry said. “If it’s still there for a two-week period and hasn’t moved, at that point enforcement staff would contact police to look into the matter further.”

It was indicated, but not explicitly stated, that the Town’s bylaw department could, following that process, have an abandoned vehicle removed. Ms. Vehkavaara was hoping to see Council go one step further and have that power explicitly outlined in the municipality’s parking bylaw. 

Coun. Todd Taylor wondered if Council should be going one step further and potentially banning overnight parking on town roads all year round. 

“When I moved to Orangeville 20 years ago, one of the things I found surprising was our liberal parking laws. In London, where I previously lived, we weren’t able to park on the street overnight at any time of the year. I always thought it was a bit odd that we do that here,” Coun. Taylor said. “I kind of like it in a way, but I’m hearing concern here.”

He asked Ms. Landry how Orangeville’s parking bylaw stacked up to other municipalities, and if this was something Council should, potentially, look into changing.

“Perhaps some (municipalities) are more liberal, and some aren’t,” Ms. Landry said. “I understand there have been a few resolutions of Council dealing with reviewing no parking requirements on municipal roadways. Staff are to report back on that. As part of our regulatory bylaw work plan, staff is to report back on an updated consolidated traffic bylaw.”

She added, “When the matter comes back before Council, there would be an opportunity to review current parking restrictions.”

It’s expected that process will begin later this year. 

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