Woolwich expands its clean yards bylaw, taking aim at a list of problems
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Woolwich expands its clean yards bylaw, taking aim at a list of problems

Taking a pass on the yard work and outdoor maintenance? A really long break? It could cost you, as Woolwich has expanded the list of offending circumstances – and official offences – that could earn you a ticket for failing to maintain property standards.

From failing to keep property free and clear of waste material to preventing the pooling of stagnant or standing water, homeowners face a longer list of actionable offences under a new clean yards bylaw approved last week by township council. Offences also include a failure to maintain your lawn, from cutting the grass to controlling weeds. The bylaw takes wider aim at items left out on the property, beyond inoperable vehicles and the like.

Fines have been set at $110.

Woolwich typically acts on a complaints basis rather than going around looking for trouble spots in the township, clerk Val Hummel explained, noting there are only two enforcement officers to carry out the work.

Residents with issues on their property are usually given a warning, with the township looking to resolve the issue by talking rather than resorting to tickets or legal action, she added.

“When responding to complaints, enforcement services staff always attempt to education and gain cooperation before issuing a fine or summons,” she said in a report to council.

Expressing some reservations about the reactive, complaint-driven system, Coun. Murray Martin said a more proactive approach could help avoid a neighbour-vs-neighbour situation.

“People don’t like to squeal on their neighbours,” he noted.

Acknowledging the staffing limitations, fellow Ward 3 Coun. Larry Shantz suggested staff should stop and initiate the process if they notice a problematic location while they’re out performing other tasks, rather than actively pursuing violations.

The revised bylaw provides more leeway for enforcement staff to deal with the varied list of complaints it receives about issues of tidiness or health concerns, said Hummel.

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