November 2012 - News & Events

ALERT - NATURAL GARDEN EXEMPTION
Bylaw Change Update
TORONTO CITY COUNCIL MEETING
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2012
City of Toronto residents! Are you prepared to pay $200 +HST for the privilege of gardening? There is a proposal going to City Council on Tuesday to modify the current Natural Garden Exemption process. The proposal is to amend an already flawed bylaw.
Due to the urgency of the matter and timing we can't delay the newsletter to go into full detail. So here's the scoop:
The interpretation of the bylaw that is being used is on the notoriously inaccurate 311 website (e.g., Chapter 202 is an old City of Toronto bylaw). Note that natural gardens should be "manicured". Hmmm... .make that planticured.
Meeting Item (LS17.2) for November 27, 2012
Staff Report November 2, 2012 Includes two fact sheets: "What qualifies as a Natural Garden" and "Common Invasive Plants and some Recommended Alternative Plants for Your Garden" with some highly contentious, inaccurate information.
The original Chapter 489: Grass and Weeds
Some Scoop Notes
The terms "invasive" and "noxious" are bandied about very loosely and incorrectly. Definition of Invasive (according to Ontario Invasive Plant Council): Invasive species - Alien species whose introduction or spread negatively impact native biodiversity, the economy and/or society, including human health. Alien Species - Plant, animals and micro-organisms that have been accidentally or deliberately introduced into areas beyond their native range. Synonyms may include introduced, non-native and exotic.
They say they may "request" removal of specific "noxious" weeds, but actually, they demand removal of weeds that are not noxious.
Note: Under the Weed Control Act (Ont.), the only species listed as a noxious or local weed in the City of Toronto is Purple Loosestrife (through a bylaw). Ragweed and Poison Ivy are not invasive because they are native species. However, they are a human health hazard and should be regulated in urban areas. The Scoop recommends that Toronto declare them as local weeds under the Weed Control Act (Ont.), Section 10. Giant Hogweed should also be included, but is not listed here. European buckthorn is an invasive species and only noxious in rural areas, i.e., not in urban areas unless regulated as a local weed through the proper channels. E. buckthorn, DSV and Garlic Mustard should all be declared as local weeds. For starters, add Japanese Knotweed, too.
Since the Weed Control Act (WCA) applies to both private and public lands, all species declared as either noxious or local must be removed within the municipal boundary. The local weed, Purple Loosestrife must be removed everywhere it occurs in the City of Toronto. If additional species are declared local weeds through bylaws, they must also be removed wherever they are found within Toronto. Note: Toronto erects signage on established trails where Poison Ivy has been identified. Unfortunately, dogs can't read theses signs and will take urushiol from Poison Ivy home to be enjoyed by those who are sensitive, and react adversely with exposure in the form of Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis.
For more background, please check out the Big Bad Bylaws issue of The Local Scoop and the new blog site from a NANPster who knows the trouble with poorly written, mis-interpreted bylaws: Verdigrow – Green Evolution site.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A CONCERNED CITIZEN
Please stay informed and speak out, even if you don't live in Toronto. It's only a matter of time before other municipalities adopt some or all of the amendments for their own bylaws.
Read the staff report
Send your comments (submit button at top of page)
From a couple of members of NANPS:
"The details of the proposed changes are somewhat complicated. As a minimum, you may wish to at least make a general statement incorporating some or all of the following points :
- naturalized gardens are to be encouraged, not discouraged
- they provide many benefits (e.g. biodiversity, supporting pollinators, absorbing storm water)
- they should not require any special permit, inspection or approval process
- people should be able to have such gardens without fear of removal or cutting orders or fines
- natural gardens should not be singled out for special investigation by Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) by-law officers
- MLS should restrict its role to issues of health and safety and specified noxious weeds
- all clauses relating to garden height, size, maintenance, aesthetics, plant material etc. should be removed
- in two legal challenges launched by Toronto gardeners, Ontario courts have affirmed that citizens have the constitutional right, protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to tend a natural garden on their private property and on the city-owned road allowance in front of their property".
Contact your Councillor and other Councillors Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31) spoke at the ML&S meeting on November 16, 2012. Send her your comments. Send comments to other councillors, too.
Follow the Meeting (City Council Agenda). The button at the top is the Meeting Monitor for up-to-date info as the meeting progresses on November 27th.
Engage others! Get the message out by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter...
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