If your yard is starting to look like this, East Ferris, a by-law officer might be darkening your door / Bing Image Creator David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

East Ferris has a brand-new by-law to encourage folks to keep their land clean, and there are fines attached for infractions. Fines range from $175 to $500, so if you’ve been meaning to clear that trash pile from your yard, now might be the time.

The $500 fine is the whopper and can be issued if you obstruct an officer or agent trying to enforce the by-law. The $175 fines are mainly for composting issues – not storing it in a suitable container or leaving it uncovered.

Most fines are $250 and can be levied if grass is higher than 20 centimeters, if you have garbage all over your yard, or you insist on keeping stagnant water around. Same goes if you have inoperative vehicles on your property or are storing more than five vehicles on your land.

If you dig a pit and leave it unfenced or uncovered, you could see a fine of $350. If your swimming pool, hot tub, or artificial pond becomes a cesspool, you could also see a $350 fine. And failing to comply with an order? Also, a $350 fine.

There was an existing by-law that was similar to this new version, but that one didn’t have fines attached. If a complaint was made against a homeowner, the only real resolution was to hash it out in court, which is costly and not the most effective way to settle neighbour disputes.

Municipal staff overhauled the original by-law so much that they decided to scrap the old and start anew with this one, which council passed on May 23.

Fines add “a little more teeth to it,” East Ferris’ chief administrative officer Jason Trottier said. Now a by-law officer can give an owner a warning, and if they don’t comply, the officer can return and issue a fine, which is faster and more efficient than saying “we’re going to take you to court,” which involves a lot more resources.

Plus, a court date could be a year in the making, so this new by-law “gets the issue resolved” much faster.

The by-law makes clear that every owner, lessee, or occupant “shall keep their ground, yard or vacant land clear and free from holes and excavations, adequately draining, graded, clean or cleared up and free from conditions that may be considered a health hazard or nuisance by the surrounding lands and neighbourhood.”

Let the spring cleaning begin.

The complete clean yards by-law is available on the Municipality’s website.

By David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 28, 2023 at 09:54

This item reprinted with permission from   BayToday.ca   North Bay, Ontario
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