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January 11, 2010 - News & Events

Is it the perfect storm or what? Coincidentally, two deputations from NANPS members are to be heard on the same day (January 12th) in different councils regarding bylaw infractions related to height issues of plants grown in gardens in the City of Toronto. Frivolous, neighbour-driven complaints are at the root. Ramifications will be felt in other jurisdictions, so each one of these persecutions is important to fight. Without your help, change will not occur.
In the first case, Doug Smith will be defending his cedars that are in contravention of the bylaw limiting the height of "fences" to 1.2 m in the front yard. His cedars are being lumped in with fences under an archaic bylaw which is contrary to the intent of the City's commitment to the environment through the green plan. The bylaw must be amended to have the reference to hedges and shrubs removed when there is no safety issue involved, i.e., traffic sight lines for pedestrians and drivers. Read the staff report
Under Toronto Municipal Code:FENCE - A barrier, including one for noise attenuation, or any structure, except a structural part of a building, that wholly or partially screens from view, encloses or divides a yard or other land, or marks or substantially marks the boundary between adjoining land, and includes any hedge or shrub that has the same effect.
Another neighbour-based complaint forced Diane Way to apply for a Natural Garden Exemption, and was initially turned down. She is fighting for the right to grow native plants in her front yard. This strikes at the very heart of our mandate, particularly the part to do with cultivation.
Diane was charged under Bylaw 489, which restricts the height of weeds (designated under the Weed Control Act), and tall grass to 20 cm (8 inches). The staff report noted eleven species of "invasive and undesirable plants" - none of which are listed under the Ontario Weed Act, and none of which are considered noxious. From the list: two species are native and therefore by definition cannot be considered invasive, and five species which do not generally even reach the proscribed 8 inch height. Any of these plants could be found in virtually any Toronto garden. Moreover, the garden contains no turf grass, let alone in excess of 8 inches. Read the staff report
On September 11, 1996, Fairgrieve ruled in Bell v. Toronto (City) that naturalized gardens are a protected form of expression under section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that the ruling struck down the previous grass and weeds by-law which was ruled to be unconstitutional because it denied naturalized gardens as an inherent right, and that the subsequent natural garden exemption to the grass and weeds by-law, 489-2.B.(2), was created by the City to guarantee the court-affirmed Charter rights of citizens to tend naturalized gardens. The Canadian Charter of Rights guarantees the right of Expression. Toronto's Weed and Long Grass Bylaw must incorporate this ruling, yet we are still faced with notices of infractions.
This is an urgent matter that needs your immediate attention, if you care about gardens and gardening. This affects us all, whether you garden exclusively with natives or not - all are at risk. Please send out your emails - they don't have to be novels - even a quick missive to show your displeasure at the insanity prevailing will do wonders for support. Please use any of this information or the petition from NANPS' website for inspiration. If you can attend as well to show your support - bonus!
HEDGE ISSUE: Doug SmithItem: EY33.6, Fence Exemption Request for 156 Wincott Drive
January 12, 2010, 10:00 a.m. or shortly thereafter.
The Council Chamber, Main Floor, Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall.
Send support via faxes or email:Etobicoke York Community Council
City Clerk's OfficeMain Floor, Etobicoke Civic Centre
399 The West Mall
Toronto, ON M9C 2Y2
Telephone: 416-394-8101
Fax: 416-394-5600
Item 30.36 – Natural Garden Exemption at 144 Manor Road East
January 12, 2010 at 2 p.m. or thereafter (depending on the pace, perhaps long thereafter)
Send support via faxes or email:
Toronto and East York Community
Toronto City Hall
Committee Rm 1
2nd floor, West Tower
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Fax: 416-397-0111
Enquiries: 416-392-7033
Ros Dyers, Gail
Fowler 416-392-8018,416-338-5848
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