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Wellesley does some spring cleaning

A proposed clean yards bylaw would set out more specific standards for property maintenance in Wellesley Township and establish set fines for violations.

The new bylaw would expand on the existing property standards bylaw. The measure would apply to all properties in the township used for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, but not land used for normal farming practices.

Owners and tenants are required to keep properties clean and free from debris, cut grass and weeds, trim trees and hedges next to sidewalks and roadways, drain bodies of stagnant water that are not natural, and keep properties free of injurious insects, vermin and other pests. Under the proposed bylaw, the township can also fine people who leave garbage on any property within the township without written consent from the owner.

Staff has proposed a fine of $200 for each offence, and $400 for failing to comply with a notice or order. If a homeowner or tenant doesn’t clean up the property themselves, the township can do the work and charge them for it or add the amount to the property owner’s  municipal taxes.

Chief administrative officer Susan Duke said the bylaw will expedite enforcement by having a system of set fines in place, instead of having to lay charges and go through the court system.

“The clean yards [bylaw] will just give us a vehicle to use to make it a little easier to deal with those unsightly or debris-filled yard situations where there might be a health, safety or risk of fire situation,” she explained.

The clean yards bylaw also sets out more specific and detailed requirements for property maintenance than were included in the property standards bylaw.

Woolwich and Wilmot townships already have similar bylaws, and Duke noted that they’re being increasingly used by urban municipalities.

The bylaw will be enforced largely in response to complaints.

“Should there be a health, safety or risk of fire situation that we become aware of, it would be common sense to address that without waiting for a complaint,” she said.

The proposed bylaw will be read over by the township’s lawyer before coming back to council for approval. Once council has approved the bylaw, it will go to the Court of Justice for approval of the schedule of fines.

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