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Guelph/Eramosa recommending a clean yards bylaw

The bylaw intends to address exterior property maintenance issues in a more timely fashion
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Township of Guelph/Eramosa council and staff at a meeting. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

GUELPH/ERAMOSA – The Township of Guelph/Eramosa has endorsed bringing forward a bylaw focused on addressing exterior yard maintenance in a more timely manner. 

Ivan Lunevski, bylaw enforcement and property standards officer, presented the draft bylaw at a Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday. In a follow-up interview, Lunevski said the reason for the bylaw is simple.

“Just to expedite the manner we deal with minor clean-ups such as lawn grass and weeds and minor debris that is left in front of people’s homes,” Lunevski said. 

The report to council said this bylaw aims to address maintenance issues around property that doesn’t require much effort to bring into compliance. Regulations covered include but are not limited to keeping property neat, free of waste, free of noxious weeds, free of derelict vehicles, free from standing water and maintained compost piles.

The township has a property standards bylaw but the report said there are limitations to it in addressing exterior property areas and timely compliance with simple issues. More than 90 per cent of property standards related complaints made in 2019 were about exterior property conditions. 

CAO Ian Roger explained it’s not an expansion of this existing bylaw but a way to expedite these smaller issues. 

“Bylaw officers can deal with them directly now under the clean yards bylaw rather than providing a notice and providing almost three weeks to comply,” Roger said. 

The bylaw works by giving property owners a timeframe, usually 72 hours to a week to comply with an order. Those who don’t comply could get a fine of $150. Lunevski said there is some leeway for timeframes depending on the circumstances. 

“We use one tool that's more powerful than anything, it’s called discretion,” Lunevski said. “With discretion we have the ability to extend any kind of deadline to complete anything given the circumstances.”

According to the draft bylaw, those who continue to not comply can expect a fine of $400. Also, the report says those who do not comply with an order in the allotted time may have the issue remediated by a township authorized contractor. Any costs associated with this will be the responsibility of the owner. Interfering with a bylaw officer is a fine of $500. 

Lunevski stressed that he does not anticipate any issues and he has a 99 per cent compliance rate from his orders.

“We’re not here to make life difficult for the residents of the township,” Lunevski said. “We’re here to help them out by improving their standard of living and making their community look better.”

Roger said this is not a cash grab by the township but a way to actually save money through a speedier process. 

“This is a method to try and improve compliance with a lot of the simple issues rather than dragging them out and actually taking more time and more money the longer the process to get things resolved,” he said. 

Guelph/Eramosa council will vote to adopt this bylaw at the next council meeting on March 23.