Bylaw update aimed at avoiding issues with ice on sidewalks

MAPLETON – Council here has approved an update to the township’s Clean and Clear Bylaw in an effort to make it easier to enforce rules around sump pump discharge.

During the Feb. 9 council meeting, chief building official Patty Wright explained the primary focus of the update, prepared in consultation with the public works department, is too enhance the ability to enforce sump pump discharge rules.

“Sump pump discharge onto roads and sidewalks create difficulties for winter maintenance and are a risk to public safety,” she noted in her report.

The idea, Wright told council, is to “promote public safety around ice on sidewalks and roads.

“It just gives us more tools in the toolbox so we can enforce those situations.”

The updated bylaw allows the township to remedy problems in cases where the owner “has defaulted” at the owner’s expense and add the cost to the tax bill for the property.

Councillor Paul Douglas noted that some lots have back-to-front drainage where sump pumps discharge into the side yard swale “and then the swale outlets across the sidewalk to the municipal right of way.”

Douglas asked if an “approved swale” as defined in the bylaw is an acceptable outlet for a sump pump.

“Swales are meant to contain all runoff,” replied Wright. “Every property needs to contain its own runoff. So if it is outletting onto the sidewalk and causing ice and a public hazard, then we’d have to look at some grading issues and resolve them, and this gives us more authority to do so.”

Douglas pointed out that “most side yard swales aren’t retaining drainage.”

“What we’re looking at here though, is the sump pump discharge where your pumping directly  into a swale and discharging directly onto the sidewalk and it’s causing ice. So if that is the case, then you need to discharge to your rear yard,” Wright explained.

Douglas replied, “But again, back to front draining lots, this doesn’t solve that because it’s just going to drain out to the front. So I think we’re just creating issues here that don’t have a clear solution to it for a number of lots … I just don’t’ know how the enforcement would work.”

Mayor Gregg Davidson said, “I think that’s where building department and Patty and the team come in and look at the problem and see what they can do to work with the landowner … to rectify the problem.”

He added, “This allows the building department to actually work with the landowners to rectify the problem.”

“As long as we don’t create a bigger problem, because what we don’t want is sump pumps being discharged into our wastewater system and that’s going to be the go-to if you can’t discharge it anywhere because of the grading on your lot. You’re going to stick it in your wastewater system and you’re going to walk away,” said councillor Michael Martin.

“So as long as we’re prepared to create solutions and hopefully, like Patty said, this bylaw update gives her some more tools, then I think that would be a good thing as long as we’re not creating a monster.”

Davidson replied, “I don’t think the intent of this was to create a monster, but to solve an icing problem and allow the building department to work with the community members to alleviate the problem.

“I know a couple of homes where sidewalk is low and everything flows there regardless of where you put the sump pump and everything pools there.”

The mayor added, “So there are some issues that we have to solve as a township with some of these low areas … But we do have a number of residents who are discharging right near to the sidewalk.”

“We are not going to resolve all the issues with this one bylaw, but this does give us the power to alleviate the unnecessary situations,” said Wright.

Davidson added, “It’s for us to work with the community to make it better. We want to make a walkable community, and this fits right into that.”

A resolution to approve the updated bylaw as presented was approved by council.

North Wellington Community News