Puslinch councillors get property standards bylaw update

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch is taking another step toward revising its property standards bylaw.

On Nov. 20, councillors heard a presentation by township bylaw enforcement officer Blair Lance.

CAO Patrick Moyle stated Lance was given the responsibility by council for updating the municipal property standards bylaw.

A draft bylaw was put before council on Nov. 20 or information purposes and to garner input from councillors, Moyle said.

The finalized bylaw would come back at a future meeting for consideration, he added.

Lance explained the legislation has changed regarding property standards and the current bylaw is outdated.

The current property standards bylaw takes its authority from the Planning Act and the revised legislation means that authority is now derived from the Building Code, he said.

Lance added another major factor is that municipalities must now enforce rental residential standards.

He noted a public meeting was held in June and some of the issues brought up at that time included:

– rights of entry into a dwelling rights;

– a kitchen backsplash which is water and grease resistant;

– storage of firewood

– requirements of eavestroughs on all kinds of properties; and

– concerns about anonymous complaints.

“We looked at those concerns and revised the bylaw as a result.”

Of the changes, Lance said a section of the bylaw was removed which referenced resodding or reseeding properties.

Another portion regarding kitchens, the backsplash portion requirement was removed, Lance said.

In addition, parts of the bylaw requiring eavestroughs and gutters on all buildings was also removed.

Lance said residents had also voiced concerns regarding rights of entry to properties.

He offered the clarification of the bylaw being that buildings cannot be entered without consent.

Lance said the bylaw also does not apply to farms undertaking normal farm practices.

As to the complaints process, Lance stated “we do not take anonymous complaints.”

“If anyone is filing a complaint, they must file their information to the township before investigation begins.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer appreciated the work undertaken to ensure community concerns were looked at.

Bulmer was pleased to see the exclusion of normal farm operations, but stated there are still large natural areas which could be impacted by property standards.

He said in areas, the state of vegetation is a natural process.

Councillor Jessica Goyda said significant work was done to bring this bylaw up to date.

Goyda indicated it would have been a challenge because of the various types of property and buildings within the municipality.

“The challenge was finding wording generic enough to be applicable to all, but specific enough to be enforceable.”

She expressed concern about interior property standards although she understood the intent to protect renters.

Goyda noted she understood property bylaw enforcement is complaint driven, but wondered what would happen if there was a falling-out between neighbours.

Regarding naturalized areas, she asked if they too would be required to be free of excessive leaves and grass.

While it makes sense in urban areas, Goyda said in rural areas it could be a challenge where owners want to naturalize parts of their property.

She then asked if there might be more suitable wording.

Lance agreed the process is generally complaint driven, but if staff saw something which appeared to be a safety issue, it could take action.

Councillor John Sepulis asked if there could be inclusion of definitions of heritage properties.

Bulmer said the bylaw could use a bit more clarity as to where and how the bylaw can be applied and where minimum standards are enforced.

Moyle noted the report would be recieved, amended and brought forward to a future council meeting.