The Town of Halton Hills has created a new community standards bylaw that will reduce the amount of time residents have to wait for Town action on litter, long grass and weeds, icy sidewalks and another nuisance complaints. It's expected under this new regulatory system that complaints, that often took as long as three to six months or even a year, can now be addressed in as little as 24 hours to seven days. Nuisance items were previously lumped in the Property Standards bylaw that was designed to given property owners time to address the complaint themselves. But for issues like rotting garbage in hot temperatures or icy walkways in a public place, a three-month time frame for the owners is not acceptable before the Town can step in and take action. "Say it's a really hot day and there's a pile of garbage-- the officer will give the property owner notice of a day or two days to clean up, and failing to do that with the regulatory bylaw the Town could perform the work and recover those costs in the same manner as taxes," said Debbie Edmonds, manager of licensing and legislative services at the Town of Halton Hills. "So it's an expedient way of getting rid of a problem like that that could have health repercussions." Under the old system, the Town would have had to send out a Order by registered mail, that usually gives the owner at least 30 days to comply, plus a 15 day appeal process and so on.
"It could go on for three months or more, so for things like the litter and garbage and long grass, it seems it is more useful to use a regulatory system," she said, adding that it's the process used by most municipalities in Ontario. The new bylaw is composed of four parts: · Clean yards and refuse: removal of refuse, littering, illegal dumping and composting, discarded appliances and charity collection sites · Nuisances escaping the property: dust, excessive noise, light and water · Public nuisances: graffiti and municipal addressing · Environmental health and safety: long grass and weeds, snow and ice removal from commercial and rental properties, stagnant water, unprotected wells, holes and pits, pits and quarries not in operation and deep water and dangerous precipices. The general noise prohibition has been replaced with a prohibition by a time and place chart listing when residents cannot do certain things such as playing loud music. This will enable the officer to determine the violation, and to take corrective action immediately rather than residents keeping logs of occurrences and testifying in court against their neighbour. This provision also includes persistent barking, operation of dirt bikes, air conditioners and pool pumps not in good working order, use of outdoor power tools at inappropriate times, excessive noise from patio bars and the discharge of firearms and fireworks. Time charts have been in place in other municipalities since the 1970s, said Edmonds. "They have been tried and tested and do work rather well." Acton Councillor Mike O'Leary urged the enforcement of the dirt bike provision "as heavily as you can." New provisions regarding the discharge of swimming pool water and water from a hose onto another property without the consent of the owner were added due to several public complaints and requests received over the summer. Also added was a "Clean and Clear" provision on the removal of refuse from a property. The height before action is taken on long grass/weeds has been reduced from 12 inches to eight inches in urban areas. For more details on the new community standards bylaw go to www.haltonhills.ca