[Sust-mar] ACTION ALERT re Natural Gardens and Bylaw Reform

Helen Jones hjones at chebucto.ns.ca
Sun Nov 25 23:05:54 EST 2007

This is a good summary of arguments.  We need this kind of reform here in
HRM as well.


Subject: ACTION ALERT re Natural Gardens and Bylaw Reform

Natural Garden lovers.... Please circulate widely....
Native plant gardens in the City of Toronto are under attack by staff of the
Municipal Licensing and Standards Department, despite earlier rulings by two
Ontario Courts allowing Sandy Bell and Douglas Counter to maintain
their ecological gardens as a constitutional right, and the promotion of
these important initiatives by the City of Toronto itself. Moreover, City
inspectors are apparently empowered to enter private property without notice
or the permission of the resident or property owner, deciding independently
what constitutes an “acceptable” garden.
Deborah Dale’s next appeal hearing is:
Property Standards Committee  - Scarborough Panel
Monday, November 26, 2007, 9:30 am
We need to send a strong message to City Hall that native plants are NOT
WEEDS, but are a vital resource to be treasured, protected and
encouraged. Turf grass is ecologically unsound, aesthetically uninspired,
and must not be considered by City staff to be the accepted standard for
Toronto gardens.
At this appeal hearing, the Committee, comprised of non-elected private
citizens, will decide the fate of Deborah’s backyard woodland garden despite
having no clear mandate, accountability or apparent knowledge of
environmental issues.
At an earlier appeal hearing on October 29, 2007, City staff had been unable
to prove their allegations of “weeds, heavy undergrowth, dead branches and
debris” in Deborah’s backyard garden. Instead of dismissing the complaint,
the Committee directed staff to return to Deborah’s property with “an
expert” and report back on November 26th along with representation from the
City’s legal department. On August 21, 2007, City staff had already engaged
in destroying — WITHOUT PRIOR WARNING — Deborah’s front yard meadow and
boulevard gardens, home to over 200 species of native wildflowers, trees,
shrubs, ferns, grasses and sedges, and a host of birds, butterflies and
beneficial insect pollinators. At least 36 of the plant species razed by the
City were listed as “Species at Risk”.
THE CITY’S BYLAWS MUST BE CHANGED,  as must the attitude and knowledge level
of those mandated to enforce these by-laws. We know the effects of chemicals
in our gardens, and we are witnessing the startling decline in
species diversity caused by human interference in the natural order. It’s
time for citizens to take action and demand that the fundamental importance
of native plants and the Charter-protected rights of citizens to tend such
gardens be recognized.  Our environment deserves to be protected from the
capricious actions of the uninformed!
2(B) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to express
environmental standards on your own property and on the city boulevard in
front of your home, you are urged to ...

Take action now!
SIGN THE PETITION at   www.nanps.org
Please contact
Mayor David Miller
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON  M5H 2N2
Fax: 416-696-3687 or e-mail:   mayor_miller at toronto.ca    
Property Standards Committee – Scarborough Panel
c/o Betty Bushe, Committee Secretary
Scarborough Civic Centre, 3rd floor, 150 Borough Drive, Toronto, ON  M1P 4N7
Fax: 416-396-4301 or e-mail:  bushe at toronto.ca  
Write Toronto City Councillors.
Contact information  at:    http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp


Items you might wish to mention in your correspondence with City officials:
* The inherent environmental and educational value of native species
plantings, including their vital role as urban corridors and habitat for
birds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

*The constitutional right to garden using environmental principles is
guaranteed under Section 2(B) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

*That by-laws are intended to address health & safety issues, not the
personal aesthetics of by-law inspectors.

*The lack of an adequate notification process when infractions are alleged.

*The unfairness of requiring citizens to spend time and money defending the
application of environmental principles promoted by the City and affirmed by
the Courts, i.e. native plant gardening.

*The current application of these unfair processes against Deborah Dale and
other Toronto citizens.
For more details, and to sign the Petition to protect our gardens,
Visit  www.nanps.org     
e-mail:  nanps at nanps.org   
North American Native Plant Society
P.O. Box 84, Station D
Etobicoke, ON  M9A 4X1    

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