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B.C. city rescinds fines for living in RV on farm, won’t go after others

Lee and Sondra Watkins faced nearly $2,800 in penalties for contravening a Vernon bylaw
Lee and Sondra Watkins will not have to pay nearly $2,800 in fines for living in their RV on family-owned property in Vernon. (

Fines levied against a Vernon family for living on a farm in a fifth wheel contradicting city bylaws have been rescinded by council.

The city decided Monday that nearly $2,800 fines accumulated by Lee and Sondra Watkins will not be enforced in the wake of an earlier decision to allow secondary residents to live on property in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). It followed a long and high-profile battle between the couple and the city.

The Watkins went public with their battle with the city to keep staying in their RV on a four-acre family property in the Blue Jay subdivision back in October.

The couple had been talking with the city to extend their stay in the RV as long as possible, but started receiving fines from bylaw over the last several months.

“We wish to continue to fight this for many other properties and people in the same situation,” the Watkins originally said in a petition that garnered more than 5,400 signatures since it was launched on Oct. 12.

The decision wasn’t without opposition.

Mayor Victor Cumming said rescinding the fines “didn’t make any sense at all.”

“We have bylaws in place. They (Watkins) knowingly did things that were not allowed and we asked bylaws to look into it,” said Cumming. “It doesn’t make sense to change the bylaw and make it retroactive. This sets up a whole cycle of chaos.”

Coun. Akbal Mund said the Watkins were a “special case,” especially after the city tried to change its bylaw a year ago.

“We tried to change it in December 2022. Had it been changed, it would have come into effect in March 2023 and there would have been no fines levied,” said Mund, who agreed with Cumming’s argument.

The motion passed by a margin of 4-2.

READ MORE: Vernon council to discuss rescinding fines for ALR RV dwellings

READ MORE: UPDATE: Vernon council allowing people to live in RVs on agricultural land

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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