New year to see changes to city bylaws

Getting caught urinating in public just got more expensive.

Last week Waterloo city council approved multiple changes to the city’s bylaws and one of them will see the fine for breaking the nuisance bylaw, which includes public urination, increase to $450. The nuisance bylaw was one of four changed bylaws that came out of last Monday’s council meeting, and according to the City of Waterloo director of bylaw enforcement Jim Barry, it will have a broad reach.

“The nuisance bylaw combines two existing bylaws. Previously there was a nuisance bylaw that was enacted in the 2000s and a dumping bylaw that was enacted in the 70s, so this bylaw combines the two and streamline them,” he said.

“This includes a lot of the same things that were included in the past nuisance bylaw, including dumping on public property, public urination, littering, knocking over Canada Post boxes. It also includes things like objectionable odours, excessive amounts of smoke, hindering passage on a highway or public property.”

The city also changed bylaws regarding lot maintenance and property standards, as well as open air fires.

“The open air fire bylaw is an updated bylaw,” said Barry. “The key item in the bylaw, it continues, it strengthens the ban on open air fires. We don’t allow open air fires … Even for cooking, if you have a coal fire in your backyard and you’re cooking, it’s actually prohibited under the bylaw.”

Barry added that certain things like natural gas fireplaces will still be permitted under the new bylaw, but the city does not allow the burning of solid fuels such as wood or coal.

When it comes to the changes in lot maintenance and property standards, Barry said that “the criteria [for bylaw officers getting involved] really hasn’t changed, I think it was more just migrating issues from one bylaw to another.”

Some of the issues that were moved under the lot maintenance bylaw were what Barry called “minor things like long grass, debris on yards and derelict vehicles.”

By moving these issues under the lot maintenance bylaw Barry said it would allow the city to react in a faster manner.

In addition to the four changed bylaws, last Monday council meeting also approved an amendment to Waterloo’s policy regarding overnight street parking.

According to Barry, the city will be moving away from a property-based model to a plate-based model.

Currently each property has 18 exemptions enabling cars to park on the street 18 times per year. Under the new system, individual license plates will have 10 exemptions per year.

“This provides more flexibility to residents. They’re not tied to just 18 per property, it goes to plates,” said Barry.

All these changes will come into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

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