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New Woolwich bylaw takes aim at items such as basketball nets left on boulevards

Shooting some hoops at the end of the driveway and a bit of ball hockey are all well and good, just remember to put away the nets when you’re done. Failure to do so could eventually see Woolwich employees do it for you, then send you the bill.

Citing safety concerns, township council this week agreed to a new bylaw governing items such as sports equipment left on the municipal rights-of-way, particularly boulevards between the road and people’s front yards.

There are issues with portable basketball hoops, hockey nets and skateboard ramps, for example, being left unattended on the boulevards, bylaw enforcement officer Krisent Cufaro told councillors meeting Tuesday night.

“The equipment being left out is becoming an increasing problem,” she said, noting they can be a hazard to pedestrians.

As well, items carried by the wind into the road become a hazard for drivers. Likewise equipment in the boulevards can obstruct views.

Given the liability issues, the township’s insurers recommended taking action, Cufaro explained.

“Any accident that may result from unattended sports equipment would fall on the township should any claim be filed because the equipment is in our right-of-way. When sports equipment is left out unattended on a highway or boulevard, it can cause sightline issues for motorists trying to exit driveways,” she said in her report to council. “Additionally, sports equipment can cause obstructions for motorists, interfere with parking in areas where parking is already limited and can cause obstructions for pedestrians when left on sidewalks, causing safety issues.”

Coun. Larry Shantz noted there are no provisions for fines in the new bylaw. Rather, property owners would be billed for removal of equipment left unattended.

Curfaro responded that fines would not be applicable in this case, adding the township’s first priority will be a public-education campaign to make residents aware of the issue, including the new bylaw.

“So, if you don’t do it, we’ll do it for you, and charge you for it?” said Shantz.

“Unattended sports equipment causes obstructions for operations staff from effectively completing maintenance activities including street sweeping, garbage and recycling pick-up and in some cases, snow plowing,” said Curfaro in her report. “Last year, enforcement staff picked up several basketball nets off roadways that had blown over on windy days. As the equipment is meant to be portable, it would be easy enough for residents to bring the equipment back onto their private property.”

As with many enforcement issues, the township is most likely to act on a complaint basis, she said in response to a question from Coun. Murray Martin, adding staff would act if they saw a situation that posed an imminent danger.

Martin suggested using sports equipment on the boulevards should be discouraged, not just the practice of leaving the items unattended.

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