Monday, June 13, 2011

Neighbourhood Livability By-Laws, What You Need To Know

When I was growing up in Charleswood, I remember how my parents took care of their yard and the exterior of their house. And I remember how the neighbours took care of their homes as well. There was a quiet competition between neighbours to ensure their houses looked as good or better than the other. My dad made sure we cut the grass before it got too long. My mom planted flowers at the front of the house. Our home was maintained, the fence was painted, and garbage was only taken to the curb on garbage day. We knew our house had to be kept up to standards. It had to meet the standards of the neighbourhood.
Later, when I had a home of my own, I tried to keep my property the same way. I knew there was an expectation to keep the house in good repair, keep the grass cut, and shovel the walk in the winter. Not only did I know I had to keep the house and yard in good repair, I wanted to.
I was never aware, until recently, that there was a Neighbourhood Livability By-Law, which spells out the rules that each home owner should live by. It provides guidelines for maintaining houses, outbuildings, yards and fences.
Here are some basic guidelines that apply to the outside of a residence:
  • during the summer months, your grass should never get to be over 6 inches in height, and you are required to cut the boulevard around your house and any grass and/or weeds that might be in your back lane
  • during the summer months, you are required to take care of the weeds in your yard
  • during the summer months, ensure all windows that open have tight fitting screens, so insects cannot get in the house.
  • make sure your fence is painted and in good repair
  • make sure your house is painted and in good repair
  • the roof needs to be in good repair
  • you should not have any broken windows
  • if you have more than three steps to your house or deck, you need a railing
  • all roofs that have a slope (house or any outbuilding) need to have gutters to catch the water
  • all gutters need to have downspouts that take water away from the building and do not allow eroding of the ground under them
  • the foundation of the house should not have any breaks or cracks which would allow rodents to enter
  • your house number must be posted at the front and back of the house and must be at least three inches high and in a contrasting color
  • you cannot have an excess of garbage in your yard
  • you are required to clean any garbage in your back lane behind your residence
That's not everything, but it gives a basic idea of how your house should be maintained. If you are a renter, and some of these things are not taken care of, call your landlord. Ask that the issues be taken care of, and help to ensure the yard is tended.
If you are a home owner, take a look at your house. If there are issues, make a plan. Break it down into safety issues, things that need to be done right away, things that can wait a while, etc. Some projects take time, others take money. Do the easy stuff first. House numbers do not need to be purchased, they could be painted on as well. You may think house numbers are not important, but having them front and back could save your life one day if an emergency vehicle needs to find your residence.
Every improvement done, big or small, helps the look of the entire neighbourhood. And that's good for everyone.


  1. I was interviewed for a position for "enforcing" this by law. I'm not totally sure what kind of "enforcement" that entailed. Angry letters? Stern warnings?

    1. My mom just got a letter regarding the downspouts.

      It threatens to jail her for 6 months or steal $1000 in the form of a fine unless it's fixed by a certain date.

  2. I applied as well, but no interview. Maybe they feel I am too hostile for the position. Apparently they do provide notices to home owners. And there may be some form of follow-up, however, I am at a loss on how to hold them accountable to the follow-up.

  3. for a friend of mine the follow-up was that the city cut the long grass and weeds on his boulevard and then billed him for it (i can't remember if he was directly billed or if they left him a fine).

    he lived in the osborne village neighbourhood. i doubt very strongly that the city enforces the by-law evenly across the city.

  4. The system is complaint driven. Someone in your friends neighbourhood likely called 311 to complain about the long grass. The system is and isn't inforced evenly across the city. By being complaint driven, it would be evenly enforced by the By-Law department. But neighbourhoods themselves are not evenly enforcing By-Law infractions. Tuxedo, Lindenwoods, etc would complain more quickly than Kildonan or Brooklands. The North and West Ends would likely complain the least. This is reflected in the look of the neighbourhoods, and continued decay of housing stock.

  5. You are absolutely right Rae; it's the old squeaky wheel syndrome. If you complain about a neighbours home/yard it is usually kept confidential. If action is not tatken you just keep complaining and step up the ladder of supervisors.
    The police are complaint driven too. If crap is happennig short of murder and nobody complains it is a non-crime; didn't happen.
    For some reason I can't get my blog to sign in so it is chrows25@blogspot .com