The city of St. Albert, Alberta, will look to tighten up its bylaws to restrict the use of store parking lots for overnight camping and selling used vehicles, the St. Albert Gazette reported.
Mayor Nolan Crouse spearheaded the push because he thinks parking lots like Wal-Mart’s are being transformed nightly into campsites and defacto used car lots.
“If you want to sell something, get a license to sell stuff and do it in the proper format,” he said.
“If you want to park and camp and do camping kinds of activities, do it in campgrounds … a parking lot right next to a busy street isn’t that location.”
Crouse said he often sees vehicles with “For Sale” signs parked at the Wal-Mart and also RVs with pets tethered to them and barbecues in the open. This is an inappropriate use of the land that creates an unsightly city, he said. He sees the trend growing in the coming years as box stores compete with each other by offering up their lots to users.
“We should nip this in the bud in the next year,” Crouse told council Monday.
Limiting overnight parking would allow the Kinsmen RV Park and used car lots “to do their job,” Crouse said.
He made a motion calling for changes to the land use bylaw to restrict the length of time a recreational vehicle can be parked and to limit “camping-type activities” such as fires.
Most Wal-Mart stores in North America allow overnight parking, according to research conducted by city administration. In some cases, individual stores or municipalities have banned overnight parking. The city hasn’t received any complaints about parking at the St. Albert Wal-Mart, said a background report.
The city needs to research the best way to regulate the overnight parking of RVs, the report states. The land use bylaw would not be the most appropriate means because enforcement falls to development officers and not bylaw officers, it says.
Nevertheless, Crouse pursued his motion to amend the land use bylaw and it passed in a 4-3 vote. Voting in support were Wes Brodhead, Roger Lemieux and Cam MacKay. Voting against were Malcolm Parker, Len Bracko and Cathy Heron.
“I have a bit of a problem with this because it is private property of Wal-Mart’s and it should be up to them to decide,” Heron said.
She said she understands the concern about unsightliness but believes overnight parking is a benefit to the business and even the community.
“Travelling in an RV myself, we have done the Wal-Mart parking thing because sometimes campgrounds are full, you can’t find a spot,” Heron said. “Before we get too far into this I think we need to think of the rights of the businesses … that allow this.”
City administration has until Feb. 28, 2012, to bring forward a recommendation.