What is a bylaw? And why should I care?
Towns, businesses, and condominium corporations all have their own bylaws. Bylaws are a way for organizations to partially customize laws to suit their unique needs. Bylaws can’t erase or contradict a provincial or federal law, rather they typically add to them. There are some exceptions, but that’s generally how it works in Canada. When someone breaks a bylaw, the punishment is usually a fine, so it is important to be aware of these bylaws when working on a project.
Frequent property bylaws homeowners face while landscaping
- Any yard structures must be at least 2 feet inside the property line
- Any open fire pits must be at least 10 feet from combustible structures
- When grading for drainage, you can build up your yard as high as you want if you leave at least 6 inches along the property line at the same height as your neighbor’s yard(s).
How to work around red tape
The best way to avoid getting bogged down by red tape is by getting creative and doing your homework. A good rule of thumb is to go to the city with a reasonable and detailed plan, so you don’t get an immediate no. If you know what you want and can demonstrate the viability of the design, the likelihood of it getting your permits more quickly is much greater.