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Langley City, landowner at odds in court over trailer and which side of house is ‘front’

When is a front yard not a front yard?
B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)

Langley City is taking a local resident to court over a trailer it says is in his front yard – but the homeowner is arguing that isn’t his front yard at all.

The petition to the court, filed May 18, asks for a court order to force the owners of a house remove a commercial trailer from a house with an address on 200th Street.

The trailer has allegedly been parked there since 2018 and, according to the City, violates several zoning rules, including one banning parking large commercial vehicles in residential areas, and one which bans placing any “accessory building,” such as a shed, closer to the front of the yard than the house.

The City asked a judge for an order to the homeowner to remove the trailer within 14 days.

The landowners have argued, however, that the trailer isn’t a commercial vehicle, it isn’t an “accessory building,” and it isn’t in the front yard, because the front yard is pointing in a different direction.

Usually, a home’s street address is based on its main driveway access, and despite it’s address, this house’s driveway has long been onto nearby 50th Avenue. By that orientation, the trailer sits in the side yard, next to the house, not in the front yard.

According to the owners, the house was built in 1913 as a farmhouse. That would mean it pre-dates the paving of 200th Street, much less its widening into a major thoroughfare.

The house isn’t even visible from 200th Street, the landowners said in their legal response to the City’s call for a court order.

“There is a mature variety of evergreen coniferous and cedar trees along the entire east perimeter facing 200th Street of the property,” the response said. “The first row of trees are likely almost as old as the original farm house they hide from 200th Street, maybe older, they are as tall as 30-35 feet or more.”

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The driveway was off 50th Avenue when the owners bought the property in 2016, they noted, and all water, sewer, Hydro, and garbage collection access to the house is via 50th Avenue, the response says.

The homeowner insists the trailer is not a commercial vehicle, but is a personal utility trailer.

They also denied the need for a building permit as the trailer is not an “accessory building.”

A judge has yet to hear the competing arguments.

None of the claims made by Langley City or the landowners have been tested in court.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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