Use and Care of Roads By-law update proposed by City Staff
This week at Transportation Committee discussion took place regarding the “Use and Care of Roads” By-law update proposed by City staff. I am not on Transportation Committee this term, but tuned in to participate, and hear delegations from residents and community groups. This is an important bylaw update, as it addresses the City’s right of way (ROW).
The ROW includes roadway, as well as the sidewalk and boulevard just beyond it. A portion of your property that is in fact owned by the City, but you are meant to maintain. There are rules and restrictions related to the City’s ROW because there are often utilities that may need accessing, grading and drainage considerations, etc. The update to the by-law came forward as a way to address a more lenient approach to residents’ use to the ROW.
Residents take pride in their properties and often plant in the ROW, some unknowingly. Or, as we have seen around the City, place “Free Little Libraries” where residents can exchange books.
The suggested amendments to the by-law are very positive, and allow residents to garden with more naturalized plants in the ROW and move away from grass.
Committee voted in favour of several motions yesterday, brought forward by Councillor Laine Johnson, to allow planting right to the street where no curb exists, allowing little libraries to be placed within 0.5 meters of the curb/edge of the street (a slight, but significant change from 1.0m proposed by Staff), and prohibiting planting items from the Invasive Species Act in the right of way. I will support those motions at Council when it comes to the table next week.
Not included in the by-law changes is growing food in the right of way, but I do hope this will be reconsidered as it is a valuable use of green space, and with growing food insecurity, we should be finding ways to allow residents to grow their own food. Staff declined to include this in the by-law update, stating they did not have sufficient information to ensure doing so would be safe, but did commit to reviewing the policy in Spring of 2024.
These are all positive steps forward to a focus on more natural uses of the ROW, promoting pollinator gardens while beautifying our neighbourhoods.