Three White Rock councillors back request to move fire hydrant

Members of council support resident after visiting property, but majority votes for staff report first.

The placement of a fire hydrant on Goggs Avenue has upset a resident.

The placement of a fire hydrant on Goggs Avenue has upset a resident.

A White Rock resident took his year-long battle over the location of a fire hydrant to council this week, appealing for the city to move it away from his Goggs Avenue home.

Cedric Bolz told council Monday that the location of a fire hydrant, on city property in front of his home, has caused parking problems for him and his basement-suite tenant since it was installed by former water-utility owners Epcor a year ago.

Bolz said that in the months since, he has been meeting with members of council, city staff and the fire chief in an effort to resolve the issue – now the city’s responsibility since taking ownership of the utility in October.

He told council that he was told by fire Chief Phil Lemire prior to it being put in place that it would not impact his parking.

“I entrusted him to have the right clearance issues about parking,” Bolz said.

Following his council presentation – which included several photos of him holding a five-metre long string showing the circumference surrounding the hydrant – Coun. Megan Knight, who said she had been to Bolz’s property, tabled a motion to direct staff to have the hydrant moved as soon as possible at the city’s expense.

Couns. Helen Fathers and Lynne Sinclair also said they had been to Bolz’s home and said they supported moving the hydrant.

In the discussion that followed Knight’s motion, confusion arose regarding where Bolz could and could not legally park near the hydrant. City manager Dan Bottrill said the five-metre clearance only applies to vehicles parked on the street; vehicles parked on private property only need to allow for a one-metre distance from the hydrant.

Bottrill confirmed that a hydrant must be “clear and visible” from the street to allow for firefighters to see it as they approach.

When questioned by Coun. David Chesney about whether the one-metre clearance would allow him to park two vehicles on the driveway and one on the street, Bolz said the car on the street would block the view of the hydrant.

“I’m guessing I would also be in violation of that bylaw, because I’m obstructing the clear street view that firefighters need,” Bolz said.

Bottrill disagreed, noting that fire trucks are high up enough that a driver would be able to spot the hydrant.

Coun. Bill Lawrence asked Bolz how many violations he had received since the hydrant was installed. Bolz said he had not been ticketed but was always worried about the potential of a “disaster.”

“It’s an uncertainty I don’t want hanging over my head,” Bolz said.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin – who said he had also visited the property – called for a staff report on the issue before council would make a decision that would “spend a couple thousand dollars of the public’s money.”

“I don’t know how you’re going to figure out where to move it to, because I’m sure the next guy is going to come up with some reason why it shouldn’t be there,” Baldwin said.

When contacted by Peace Arch News Wednesday, Bolz said he preferred to not comment further until the matter had been brought back to council.

A staff report is expected to be brought forward at the next council meeting on Feb. 15.