Orillia, Ontario

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In 2007, Orillia resident Rodney Frost was charged under the City's Clean and Clear bylaw which limited the height of weeds and tall grass to 20 cm (8 inches).  Facing the loss of his meadow, Frost challenged the bylaw.  After much discussion, the City agreed to review their bylaw.

Unfortunately, it chose to mimic the flawed Toronto bylaw.  On a positive note, Orillia officials did recognize that "natural gardens" had a valid place in the City.  One small step....

Man-made oasis or eyesore?; City reviews clean and clear bylaw

by Teviah Moro in the Orillia Packet.

Uncut grass and weeds or personal natural garden oasis? Classic car or rusting eyesore?

Those questions of perspective are just two relating to a handful of issues addressed in a review of the city's clean and clear bylaw meant to update the complicated legislation.

"It was quite detailed," Coun. Joe Fecht said about a report authored after several meetings of an ad-hoc committee struck to examine the bylaw.

"The process was certainly enlightening in trying to understand a piece of legislation that needed to be updated," said Fecht, who chaired the ad-hoc committee made up of councillors Wayne Gardy, Ralph Cipolla and Michael Fogarty.

Recommendations in the report, up for discussion during tonight's council meeting, deal with jurisdiction, inoperative vehicles, natural gardens, appeals, enforcement policies and bylaw applicability.

Staff from different departments also gave input during the review. Fecht said city councillors and staff regularly receive complaints relating to property standards across Orillia.

One nagging beef mentioned in the report had to do with the state of a yard at an Oxford Street residence.

"On my property, I have created a natural garden, in it I find inspiration and solace," Rodney Frost wrote in a letter to mayor and council.

In November, Frost attended a property standards committee hearing to respond to allegations from an unnamed complainant that he hadn't adhered to the city's clean and clear bylaw.

Though the committee agreed his garden "was indeed a garden," Frost explained he was compelled to write mayor and council since he was still receiving visits from bylaw officers.

"Your staff seem to be having a very difficult time interpreting the bylaw. I sympathize with them as it is vague, lacks a stated purpose, and is, in fact, illegal," he stated, noting a 1996 decision by the Ontario Court of Justice which ruled similar legislation in Toronto contravened the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.