Rogue urban campers are taking up residence on local streets and sticking their hoses into Burnaby’s sewer system – but city officials are determined to stop them.
“If they’re there all day, we’re not concerned,” public safety director Dave Critchley said at a public safety committee meeting Tuesday. “What we’re concerned with is when they’re there all day, all night, all day, all night, and put their hoses into our sewer system.”
Critchley said the committee has gotten “numerous complaints” about people parking campers and trailers on city streets and living in them.
“We do know there are certain areas where folks have tried to set up, and it can come from an enforcement blitz in Vancouver,” he said. “In the past, Vancouver, through increased enforcement, has moved components of folks in campers out to the extended areas, and then it goes to the communities, and then we become aware of it.”
He said a bylaw change is needed to help bylaw officers prevent the problem from taking root as it has in Vancouver, where vehicle dwellers have become entrenched in certain areas, like the Evans Avenue-Glen Drive strip in East Van.
“I don’t think it’s a tremendous problem,” Critchley said of Burnaby situation. “We just want to make sure that we try and get on it before it does.”
Currently, vehicles over 8,000 pounds, trailers, mobile homes and camper units detached from a vehicle are prohibited from parking on Burnaby streets “for more than two hours between the hours of 1 and 6 a.m.”
Critchley said the two-hour limit in the bylaw makes it hard to enforce, and the committee is now recommending council remove it to make parking of such vehicles illegal for any length of time between 1 and 6 a.m.
Committee member Stephen Baron asked if that meant his kids would risk getting dinged with a fine if they came for a visit with his grandkids and stayed overnight in their tent trailer.
“By the pure letter of the bylaw, yes,” Critchley said.
But it’s unlikely a camper parked for one night would draw the attention of bylaw officers unless someone complained, he said.
“If we don’t receive a complaint, we’re not out at that time of night looking for offenders,” he said.
Critchley told the NOW the city gets about two or three complaints a week.
Asked where vehicle dwellers tend to set up in Burnaby, Critchley said “everywhere.”