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Bylaw prevents feeding wild animals, allows milkweed for butterflies; to council Sept. 24

The city’s lot maintenance bylaw has been updated, and among new and existing provisions provides tools to deal with wildlife feeding on private property, graffiti, garbage, milkweed, and other matters.

Under the old bylaw, milkweed was considered a weed, and had to be cut below 8 inches. This eliminated the flowers that attract butterflies. A resident spoke up several months ago to advocate for a change to the bylaw, and the Planning & Development Committee approved the change Sept. 11. The entire bylaw heads to council Sept. 24 for a final vote.

The bylaw has also been updated under “pest prevention” to prevent property owners from accumulating dirt or refuse to the extent that it negatively impacts or spreads to neighboring properties. The bylaw requires that “Every property shall be kept free of rodents, vermin, insects and other pests.”

The bylaw also prevents feeding wild animals on private property, as well as public property.

All compost, pet food and animal food stored on a property must stored so that it doesn’t allow offensive odours to affect the surrounding neighbourhood or attract rodents, vermin, insects or other pests to the property.

The bylaw further stats that “No person shall feed any wildlife on private property or public property.

Under the updated bylaw, “feed or feeding” means leaving food on a property or permitting food to be left on a property. It does not include compost (with some restrictions) or birdseed kept in a well-maintained bird feeder.

An exception for feeding on public property is granted to “licensed members of the Trumpeter Swan Coalition for the purpose of banding and tagging trumpeter swans for research.”

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My Take: I support these changes, which take steps to reduce behavior that attracts wildlife and rats to an area, or puts residents with allergies at risk. I’ve heard from a number of residents concerns about neighbours who intentionally leave food out for squirrels or other animals. This attracts rats and sometimes coyotes to the area.

I’ve also heard serious concerns from residents about neighbours feeding or leaving out peanuts, which wild animals then take and scatter to area properties. In one case, a neighbor was doing this beside a home with a child with severe peanut allergies, and the shells and peanuts were dropped on their property by the wild animals, putting their child at risk.

The lot maintenance bylaw allows bylaw officers to stop this practice.

Several residents have contacted me about neighbours allowing garbage and debris to accumulate on their property, which provides a haven for rats and other wild animals. The bylaw will address this too.

I also support allowing milkweed. As we learn more about plants, butterflies and other insects that we want to protect, it’s important to reflect that in our bylaws.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. Here’s my take. Another unwarranted intrusion into the rights of property owners. Along with the tree bylaw, perhaps it would be a shorter list to tell homeowners what “Big Sister” will allow homeowners to do! This is yet another example of “nanny statism” at its worst.

    I have “well-maintained” (WHAT DOES THIS PHRASE MEAN AND WHO WILL DECIDE WHAT IT MEANS??) bird feeders. Both helping bird populations during the winter (doesn’t your urban canopy policy indicate the positive effects on wildlife? Is this only if DICTATED by the city?) and watching them undoubtedly brings many of us great joy as well as adding scientific data (Project Feeder Watch). But no matter how well I maintain them, bird seed gets scattered and IQ-3 (squirrels) will always beat my numerous defences against them. Bottom line–this bylaw is hastily conceived and ill advised. It benefits the very few at the expense of the many (as a cost-benefit analyis, this one fails).

    However, Marianne, it has solidified one of my concerns about you. You are decidely interventionist and I can no longer support you for mayor.

What's your take?

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