Council has work to do
It’s often been said that good fences make good neighbours. That’s not necessarily the case in Carbonear these days, where, despite a firm, high fence running down the property line, two neighbours on Park Avenue are in a dispute.
It’s all over the parking of a school bus in a private driveway on a residential street, and it’s got the municipal council and town officials caught squarely in the middle.
On one side there’s the bus driver. He keeps the big yellow vehicle in his driveway year-round. During the school year, he makes three runs per day to pick up and drop off his young passengers, including one early in the morning. On cold mornings, it’s often necessary to let the bus idle and warm up for long periods. The company that owns the bus is located less than a kilometre away, but the driver prefers to park the bus in his yard because it’s “convenient.”
On the other side of the fence is a couple that built a home on the street five years ago, after the husband was medically discharged from the Canadian Forces. They say their quality of life is being negatively impacted by the situation, and complain that the engine noise and fumes are intolerable. Their neighbour has refused to park the bus elsewhere, and the couple’s repeated attempts to get help from the municipal council have ended in frustration.
The dispute has now gone public, with both sides stressing that they didn’t want things to get this far.
But here we are, and it’s time that the town council took a second, closer look at this issue before the situation deteriorates even further. Disputes like this are not new to municipalities in this province, or throughout Canada, for that matter. No one wants a large commercial vehicle idling within 10 feet of their home, especially early in the morning, and it’s understandable that this couple is frustrated. But on the other hand, council has to walk a fine line because there are other, similar circumstances in the town that may erupt if council makes a move.
But other municipalities, including St. John’s and Mount Pearl, have rules in place, and perhaps it’s time that councillors in Carbonear start paying attention to what their counterparts in other jurisdictions have done. Here’s a suggestion. How about a parking permit system that council could approve on a case-by-case circumstance, with a decision being made only after receiving input from neighbours on adjoining properties? It’s not enough for town officials and councillors to just throw up their hands and say there’s nothing they can do because no one is violating any bylaws. Citizens deserve better than that.