The city’s lot maintenance bylaw has been updated, and among new and existing provisions provides tools to deal with wildlife feeding on private property, graffiti, garbage, milkweed, and other matters.
Under the old bylaw, milkweed was considered a weed, and had to be cut below 8 inches. This eliminated the flowers that attract butterflies. A resident spoke up several months ago to advocate for a change to the bylaw, and the Planning & Development Committee approved the change Sept. 11. The entire bylaw heads to council Sept. 24 for a final vote.
The bylaw has also been updated under “pest prevention” to prevent property owners from accumulating dirt or refuse to the extent that it negatively impacts or spreads to neighboring properties. The bylaw requires that “Every property shall be kept free of rodents, vermin, insects and other pests.”
The bylaw also prevents feeding wild animals on private property, as well as public property.
All compost, pet food and animal food stored on a property must stored so that it doesn’t allow offensive odours to affect the surrounding neighbourhood or attract rodents, vermin, insects or other pests to the property.
The bylaw further stats that “No person shall feed any wildlife on private property or public property.
Under the updated bylaw, “feed or feeding” means leaving food on a property or permitting food to be left on a property. It does not include compost (with some restrictions) or birdseed kept in a well-maintained bird feeder.
An exception for feeding on public property is granted to “licensed members of the Trumpeter Swan Coalition for the purpose of banding and tagging trumpeter swans for research.”
My Take: I support these changes, which take steps to reduce behavior that attracts wildlife and rats to an area, or puts residents with allergies at risk. I’ve heard from a number of residents concerns about neighbours who intentionally leave food out for squirrels or other animals. This attracts rats and sometimes coyotes to the area.
I’ve also heard serious concerns from residents about neighbours feeding or leaving out peanuts, which wild animals then take and scatter to area properties. In one case, a neighbor was doing this beside a home with a child with severe peanut allergies, and the shells and peanuts were dropped on their property by the wild animals, putting their child at risk.
The lot maintenance bylaw allows bylaw officers to stop this practice.
Several residents have contacted me about neighbours allowing garbage and debris to accumulate on their property, which provides a haven for rats and other wild animals. The bylaw will address this too.
I also support allowing milkweed. As we learn more about plants, butterflies and other insects that we want to protect, it’s important to reflect that in our bylaws.