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Clean your yard, or pay the price

In doing a little housecleaning of its own, Woolwich will be expecting its residents to do likewise. The passage Tuesday night of a new clean yards bylaw streamlines the process, making it quicker and easier to assess fines and force the cleanup of unkempt properties.

The target is debris, long grass, excessive weed growth and derelict vehicles.

The new bylaw replaces one first adopted in 2007. Under the bylaw, the township has the authority to set and enforce standards for the appearance of individual properties. The rules do not extend to buildings, which are handled under the property standards bylaw.

The bylaw reflects changes in the province’s Municipal Act. Rather than amend the existing document, it was easier to draft a new once, explained bylaw enforcement officer Lorna VanderPloeg.

Noting the new rules address the issue of dog feces, Coun. Sandy Shantz questioned why other animals, such as cats, weren’t covered by the bylaw.

That section, VanderPloeg explained, is in place largely to deal with the issue of people who have dog runs but who don’t clean them, leading to odour problems.

She added she had no interest in weighing in on the recent controversy about horse manure on roadways, drawing chuckles from councillors.

Changes to provincial legislation allow the municipality to set its own definitions for identifying unkempt yards, shorten timelines for compliance and to establish cleanup procedures.

Fines of $250 to $450 would be levied for offences. Violators would be given short periods of time to comply with cleanup orders. Failure to do so would see the township hire contractors to do the work, with the bill for service turned over to the resident or tacked onto the property owner’s tax bill.

Coun. Mark Bauman said the bylaw should prove helpful in speeding along the cleanup process.

“This is a proactive approach to keeping property standards higher across the township.”

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