April 2010 – The Local Scoop – Big Bad Bylaws Issue

“Where irreverence is as common as goldenrod”
(…as long as it isn’t cut down)
What’s in this Scoop?
We unearth every Gardener’s threat – bylaws that will put you on the wrong side of the law with just one neighbour-driven complaint. We’re talking about the Grass & Weeds and Fences Bylaws. Two bad bylaws that will make your patriotic bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) boil. Not my bad, not your bad, but their bad. This is definitely not the time to let bylaws be bylaws. The Scoop delves into the facts, analyzes the material, and reveals our predictions if the status quo is left unchallenged.
In addition, we welcome Goldenrod as the Official Spokesplant of The Local Scoop.
The Scoop delivers it all – the goods and the bads, featuring a new addition – ScoopArrrt – a picture is worth a thousand Scoops.

Lots of digs at those who deserve it.
“It’s true that one may cross a line in the sand, and one may also cross the fine line that exists between the acceptable and the unacceptable. Such ‘fine lines’ are not very often to be found in written rules and by-laws, but are determined case by case, by fallible human judgment.”
Smokey Stover, Feb. 20, 2010
“Welcome to The Age of Enheightenment”
(Because the Law, not the bylaw, says so)
Regulations: The provinces have the authority to create municipalities and to delegate to them certain lawmaking powers. The laws which municipalities are permitted to pass are called by-laws.
While City of Toronto Mayor Miller and his crew of women and men with brooms have been sweeping things under the city turf, The Scoop has been digging them up. The Scoop could be accused of double dipping in this issue – two big scoops of dirt, not with a trowel…but with a backhoe. The impetus was the act of two NANPS members being dragged before separate Community Councils on the same day to defend their gardens. One case involved a natural garden exemption fumble; the other, vegetation accused of impersonating a fence – two bylaws, two Scoops, one raison d’être – to inform you.
Nowhere in the bylaws will you see the use of the words: “freedom of expression” or “property rights”, as if they don’t exist. We won’t beat around the bush: these words are at the heartwood of the matter. More specifically, the problem is with The City’s interpretation of the unmentionable words that don’t really exist in their dictionary. We probably wouldn’t be discussing it with this heightened sense of urgency, but it seems that the pace of investigation has been ratcheted up a notch or two. The system is complaint-driven through the city facilitator – Division of Municipal Licencing & Standards (ML&S), a small, select group of city employees who are imposing their standard of aesthetics on the entire city. And if you fight back, you are invited to a trial by Community Council.
The Scoop is still digging, but check out the facts, so far. We’ve given you the links to check the sources, lest The Scoop gets it wrong. It’s up to you to draw your own conclusions. The bottom line is that your rights are at stake – freedom of expression and property rights, in particular. We’ve drawn the line in the sand. It’s time for the City to heighten up. Join The Scoop in the journey through the labyrinth of bylaws which govern our every (gardening) move.
TALL GRASS & WEEDS: ONE OF TORONTO’S MOST THREATENED HABITATS
Chapter 489 of the Municipal Code is enforced to make sure of it! The City has gone ultra vires on us!
Sounds serious! Is it contagious? You be the Judge.
Natural Garden Exemption: I did it my way…or at least I tried to do it my way. But they wanted it their way…oh crop! Check out the cases of encounters with the Weed Whackers.
When is a hedge or shrub a fence? When the City of Toronto says so! Learn about some inane bylaws that put your shrubs and hedges at risk of the City cutting crew.
There’s a bustle in your hedgerow…and you should be alarmed now.
GOLDENROD – Declared “WEED OF THE YEAR” by The Local Scoop
Goldenrod – Solidago canadensis – it can be notorious; it can be obnoxious, but definitely not noxious. Find out more about G. Rod who is the L. Rod or lightning rod of government angst directed against the Whole Weed World.
The City is out of whack and run by Weed Whackers. It doesn’t make sense, so The Scoop has to make some sense of it…somehow.
The City needs some strong medicine to get better. Could this be the cure or should the City seek a second opinion?
It can’t get any stranger in Toronto in 2010, and not because it’s an election year. The Scoop has some predictions if the City of Toronto keeps sliding down the slippery slope of status quo and smothering citizens’ rights as they swing the scythe of bylaws at their discretion.
Scoop Snippet
Mon cherieFrost damaged or broken branches of chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) release cyanide. The typical bitter taste in the twig of the cherry is a clue not to eat it, but bruising causes it to be sweet-tasting making it attractive to some animals (like anti-freeze to dogs). Several horses have been poisoned. Shhh….don’t tell the City…they’ll hunt down every chokecherry and yank ‘em out of the ground…or force you to get insurance in case someone starts grazing on your shrubs.
More info on plants that are reported to have poisoned livestock or to have tainted animal products can be found here.
Battle of the Weeds to hit the screen
Godzilla is likely to be remade in the next few years, if permission is obtained. If not, consider the locally shot film, G.G. vs. Hogweed. Giant Goldenrod from Edison’s laboratory fights the monster, Gigantic Hogweed, which has been declared noxious. The epic tale features the fateful pairing of the native, pretty golden boy battling the invasive, noxious weed to take over City Hall – a classic David and Goliath story. If Goldenrod fails to sign on due to height restrictions, the film company will go with the alternate plot in which the monster falls from grace and squashes City Hall. The working title: Gourdzilla.
NANPS Calendar of Events
Dan Bissonnette Naturalized Landscape Design WorkshopSat. April 10 – Markham Civic Centre, Canada Room
***A few spots are still available, especially for the afternoon session (1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)***
Dan is the Program Coordinator at the Naturalized Habitat Network, a garden show co-host at CBC Radio, also known as Dan the Garden Guy.
Residents are invited to this captivating hands-on workshop to learn about how to design your yards for wildlflowers and native plants. These sustainable yards require no fertilizer, significantly reduced watering and are a haven for butterflies, pollinators and birds. In order to make the most of this workshop, participants are encouraged to bring a survey, drawings and photographs of their yards.
$30 fee (receive a $10 NANPS plant sale voucher for May 8 – one per family)Email calendar@nanps.org at anytime to book.More info here:
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL:Sign up at volunteer@nanps.org
1. Shining Tree woods (car pools to be arranged) — next excursion Saturday April 17th
2. Charlie Clifford Memorial Park/ Grandview Park — starting Saturday May 15th.
***LAST CHANCE TO ORDER PLANTS BEFORE THE SALE: April 18th
On May 8th, exercise your Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and wallet at the NANPS Annual Plant Sale Fundraiser, a.k.a. The Tall Grass and Weeds Sale 2010. Let’s put the “Fun” back in Fun-damental Freedoms:
2 (a) freedom of conscience (admit it – you’d feel really guilty about missing the Plant Sale…avoid theself-flagellation and guilt complex and come to the sale) and religion (the cult of native plants – embrace it and buy into it!);
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press* and other media of communication (express it all here at the Native Plant Sale – naturally!);
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly (definitely at the NANPS AGM…well…maybe not so much at the Annual Plant Sale when there’s coveted plants up for grabs); and
(d) freedom of association (with other native plant lovers – NANPS members, members of other fine organizations, and the general public).
*What you do with your plants after the sale is your business; we don’t need to know.
Volunteers needed for the Plant Sale – contact plantsale@nanps.org
For details on these and other events – check the NANPS website.
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