Highlands East clean and clear bylaw being revised

By Jenn Watt

Published Sept. 18 2018

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Sept. 5 meeting of Highlands East council.

Staff is working on a revision to the clean and clear bylaw which specifies minimum standards for property upkeep.

Wayne Galloway bylaw enforcement officer said the current bylaw includes restrictions that would likely put every local property owner in violation of the rules – including “five different and distinct definitions of what waste material includes.”

Calling the bylaw “a total mess” he pointed out some of the stranger provisions including a restriction on live bird carcasses.

“A live bird does not have a carcass” he said.

Council had questions around what constitutes refuse and what should count as unsightly. For example the height of grass or piles of soil which could be from work done as a gardener.

Galloway said he needed more direction on what counts as a natural lawn.

“I might call them weeds but a gardener may say no they’re some exquisite plant” he said.

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Partridge said many people choose to leave parts of their properties in a natural state out of concern for the environment particularly along shorelines.

“The grass along my shoreline is probably two feet tall and there isn’t a county bylaw to cover that currently” she said. She wanted to ensure the Highlands East bylaw did not restrict the environmentally sound practice.

Council asked Galloway to bring forward a revised bylaw to council at an upcoming meeting for consideration.

Council voted to rescind the cat bylaw which had been on the books since 2007. The bylaw had specified that stray cats be taken to the municipal dog pound however in 2009 the dog pound board decided they would no longer keep cats.

Wayne Galloway said he became the bylaw officer in 2012 and since that time the bylaw has not been enforced because it asks staff to take cats to a location that doesn’t accept them.

“It has been the practice since becoming the bylaw enforcement officer that anyone complaining about cats running at large would be offered the loan of a live trap with the understanding that they would be responsible for any animals caught in the trap” a report from Galloway reads.

Research was done into where else cats could be taken but Galloway said he hadn’t found any shelters with space or that weren’t overly costly.

Councillor Cec Ryall who is a member of the dog pound board said he would ask the board whether they would reconsider the 2009 decision not to take cats but he thought it was unlikely they would accept.

Council passed a resolution to rescind the cat bylaw until an alternate site can be found.