Lot maintenance bylaw

This bylaw is a consolidated digital version of the official legal document. It is not an exact reproduction and is for information purposes only.

Contact 519-747-87771-866-785-3941 (TTY for deaf) or clerkinfo@waterloo.ca to get a copy of the official bylaw.


Bylaw number: 2022 - 031
Last passed by council: May 9th, 2022


Being A bylaw to regulate the maintenance of land in the City of Waterloo 

  1. Definitions 
  2. Lot maintenance standards 
  3. Ground Cover 
  4. Outside storage of refuse, compost or recyclable material 
  5. Storage of motor vehicles 
  6. Temporary Storage 
  7. Firewood storage 
  8. Inspections 
  9. Order to discontinue activity 
  10. Work order 
  11. Remedial action 
  12. Enforcement 
  13. Penalties 
  14. Fees and charges 
  15. Short title 
  16. Severability 
  17. Repeal 
  18. Coming into force

Whereas Section 11(2)(6) of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25, as amended, provides that a municipality may pass bylaws respecting the health, safety and wellbeing of persons;

And whereas Section 127 of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25, as amended, provides that a municipality may require the owner or occupant of property to clean and clear the property, not including buildings, or to clear refuse or debris from the property, not including buildings;

And whereas Section 131 of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25, as amended, provides that a local municipality may prohibit and regulate the use of any property for the storage of used motor vehicles for the purpose of wrecking or dismantling them or salvaging parts from them for sale or other disposition;

Now therefore the Council of The Corporation of the City of Waterloo enacts as follows:


1.0 Definitions

1.1 In this Bylaw:

“Boulevard” means the portion of a highway under the jurisdiction of the City that is situated between the edge of a roadway (or shoulder, where one exists) and the adjoining property line;

“Buffer Strip” means a border of Turf Grass, Ground Cover or vegetation that delineates a Naturalized Area, measuring at least 1.0 metres (3 feet) in width and not exceeding 20 centimetres (8 inches) in height;

“City” means The Corporation of the City of Waterloo;

“Council” means the Council of the City;

“composting” means the biological degradation or breakdown of organic material into a dark soil-like material called humus;

“Director of By-Law Enforcement” means the Director of By-Law Enforcement for the City or his or her designate;

“Fence Bylaw” means a bylaw passed by Council pursuant to Section 11(3) 7. of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25m as amended;

“ground cover” means organic or non-organic material applied to prevent soil erosion such as concrete, flagstone, gravel, asphalt, grass or other landscaping;

“Inoperative Vehicle” includes but is not limited to a Motor Vehicle or trailer that:

(a) is unable to be operated as a result of being abandoned, wrecked, inoperative, unused, dismantled, broken or incomplete, decayed or dilapidated, in particular with missing wheels and tires, non-functioning tires, body components; or

(b) does not have affixed to it a current and valid number plate if required under the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8;

“Lot” means a parcel of land within the City;

“motor vehicle” includes an automobile, motorcycle, and any other vehicle propelled or driven otherwise than by muscular power; but does not include the cars of electric steam railways, or other motor vehicles running only upon rails, or a motorized snow vehicle, traction engine, farm tractor, self propelled implement of husbandry or road building machine within the meaning of the Highway Traffic Act; 3

“Municipal Law Enforcement Officer” means a person appointed by the City under s. 15 of the Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.15;

“Naturalized Area” means a landscape area that has been allowed to establish vegetation through a combination of natural regeneration and deliberate plantings of native and non-native species of wildflowers, annuals, perennials, shrubs and grasses or a combination thereof to emulate a natural area monitored and maintained by the property owner;

“Noxious Weeds” means a noxious weed designated under the Weed Control Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. W.5, including but not limited to:

(a) Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum);

(b) Ragweed (Ambrosia spp.); and

(c) Poison ivy (Rhus radicans L.).

“occupant” means any person or persons over the age of eighteen (18) years occupying a Lot;

“owner” includes:

(a) the registered owner of the Lot;

(b) the person, for the time being, managing or receiving the rent from a building on the Lot, whether on the person's own account or as agent or trustee of any other person, or who would receive the rent if the building on the Lot were let; and,

(c) a lessee or occupant of a building on the Lot who, under the terms of a lease, is required to repair and maintain the Lot in accordance with the standards set out in this bylaw;

“person” means an individual, corporation, unincorporated association or partnership;

“pests” means rodents, vermin or insects; 4

“refuse” means any article or thing that:

(a) has been cast aside, discarded or abandoned, whether of any value or not;

(b) has been used up, in whole or in part, whether of any value or not; or,

(c) has been expended or worn out, in whole or in part, whether of any value or not.

“Region” means the Regional Municipality of Waterloo;

“Standing Water” means any water, other than a natural body of water that exists on a permanent basis, that is found either on the ground or in or on Refuse or debris as defined in this bylaw, but shall not include any of the following maintained in good repair:

(a) swimming pool;

(b) hot tub;

(c) water feature; or

(d) artificial pond.

“Turf Grass” means turf grass species such as blue grass, fescues, perennial ryes and tall fescues;

“Undesirable Material” includes:

(a) Refuse, rubbish, garbage, brush, waste, litter and debris;

(b) animal or human excrement;

(c) injurious insects, termites, rodents, vermin and other Pests;

(d) growth throughout the Lot of Turf Grass or vegetation in excess of 20 centimetres (8 inches);

(e) Noxious Weeds;

(f) Ground Cover, hedges or bushes which overhang the sidewalk, impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic or cause a site obstruction; 5

(g) dead, decayed or damaged trees or other natural growth and the branches and limbs thereof;

(h) Inoperative Vehicles, except in an establishment licensed or authorized to conduct or operate a wrecking business;

(i) machinery or parts thereof, or other objects or parts thereof, or accumulation of material;

(j) all furniture or appliances used for exterior use that become dilapidated; and

(k) all furniture or appliances designed for interior use.

“Zoning By-Law” means a bylaw passed by Council under the provisions of s. 34 of the Planning Act, R.S.O., 1990, c. P.13, as amended.

1.2 Where metric and imperial units of measure are referenced, the metric unit of measure shall prevail.

1.3 In the event of a conflict between a provision of this bylaw and a provision of any other by- law of the City, the provision that establishes the higher standard shall apply.


2.0 Lot maintenance standards 

2.1 No owner or occupant shall have, or permit to have, undesirable material on their Lot.

2.2 This bylaw shall not apply to any Lot owned by the City or the Region.

2.3 No owner or occupant shall have, or permit to have, undesirable material on the portion of the Boulevard adjacent to their Lot, except as may be otherwise authorized by the City or in accordance with a bylaw made by the Region with respect to the collection of waste;

2.4 The following standards shall apply with respect to Naturalized Areas:

(a) every owner or occupant shall ensure that the Naturalized Area does not encroach onto any adjacent property; 6

(b) every owner or occupant shall ensure that the Naturalized Area is maintained in a manner that does not present an unkempt or unsightly appearance;

(c) every owner or occupant shall maintain a Buffer Strip around any Naturalized Area; and

(d) no owner or occupant shall permit a Naturalized Area to be located within a daylight triangle or sightline triangle, as defined in the Zoning Bylaw and/or Fence Bylaw, unless such Naturalized Area complies with the maximum height regulations in the Zoning Bylaw and/or Fence Bylaw.


3.0 Ground cover 

3.1 An owner shall ensure that their Lot is graded or provided with ground cover, as appropriate, so as to prevent:

(a) unstable soil conditions;

(b) soil erosion; or,

(c) accumulations of dust or dirt from spreading to neighbouring properties.


4.0 Outside storage

4.1 Where refuse, compost or recyclable material is stored outside of the enclosed walls of a building, the refuse, compost or recyclable material shall be stored, by an owner or occupant, in a container suitable for such a purpose and in a manner that does not attract pests or create a health or safety hazard due to the nature of the storage or through deterioration or misuse of the storage facility.

4.2 No owner or occupant of a Lot shall permit:

(a) compost or a composter to emit odours on a Lot, which would reasonably disturb the inhabitants of the City;

(b) food waste to be placed in a composter on a Lot without covering it with yard waste, soil or compost; and,

(c) bones, meat, dairy, other fat products and human and domestic animal excrement to be added to a composter on a Lot.

(d) composting to be located less than 60 centimetres (2 feet) from a property line;


5.0 Storage of motor vehicles 

5.1 No motor vehicle, other than a motor vehicle bearing a valid license plate sticker issued by the Ministry of Transportation and capable of being driven, shall be parked on a Lot other than in a building, unless the parking of the unlicensed or inoperative motor vehicle on the Lot is a permitted use under a Zoning By-Law for that zone.

5.2 No machinery, vehicle, boat, trailer or part thereof which is in an unusable, wrecked, discarded, dismantled, partially dismantled or abandoned condition, shall be stored or allowed to remain on a Lot by an owner or occupant unless otherwise permitted by a Zoning By-Law.


6.0 Temporary storage

6.1 An owner or occupant may store equipment or construction materials, resulting solely from the construction, demolition or alteration of a building, or part thereof, on a Lot provided it is used or removed in its entirety within a reasonable period of time, as determined by a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer.

6.2 An owner or occupant shall not allow fill to remain in an unleveled state on any Lot for longer than seven (7) days unless the Lot is:

(a) a construction site for which a site alteration permit and/or a building permit is in effect;

(b) a Lot being developed under a subdivision or registered site plan agreement with the City; or,

(c) a Lot upon which material is being stored with the approval of the City or the Region in connection with a public works contract.

6.3 An owner or occupant shall not allow fill to be left in an uncovered state, meaning not covered by sod, seed or agricultural crop, on any Lot for longer than thirty (30) days unless the Lot is:

(a) a construction site for which a site alteration permit and/or building permit is in effect;

(b) being developed under a subdivision or registered site plan agreement with the City; or, 

(c) being actively farmed. 


7.0 Firewood storage

7.1 An owner or occupant may only store firewood on a Lot in a location that is not adjacent to a public highway, subject to the following conditions:

(a) firewood stored in a side yard or rear yard of a Lot shall be at least 0.6 metres (24 inches) from every property line;

(b) no piece of firewood shall exceed 0.6 metres (24 inches) in length and all firewood shall be stacked in an orderly pile;

(c) on a Lot that is less than 0.4 hectares (1 acre) in area, no firewood piles shall exceed 1.5 metres (59 inches) in height or cover an area larger than 6.0 metres square (64 square feet); and,

(d) on a Lot that is 0.4 hectares (1 acre) in area or greater, no firewood piles shall cover an area greater than 15 metres square (160 square feet). 


8.0 Inspections 

(a) The City may enter on land at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out an inspection to determine whether or not the following are being complied with:

(i) this bylaw; or,

(ii) an order made under s. 431 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

(b) For the purposes of conducting an inspection pursuant to s. 8(a) of this bylaw, the City may, in accordance with the provisions of s. 436 of the Municipal Act, 2001:

(i) require the production for inspection of documents or things relevant to the inspection;

(ii) inspect and remove documents or things relevant to the inspection for the purpose of making copies or extracts;

(iii) require information from any person concerning a matter related to the inspection; and,

(iv) alone or in conjunction with a person possessing special or expert knowledge, make examinations or take tests, samples or 9 photographs necessary for the purposes of the inspection.

(c) No person shall hinder or obstruct, or attempt to hinder or obstruct, any person who is exercising a power or performing a duty under this bylaw


9.0 Order to discontinue activity 

(a) Where the Director of By-Law Enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe that a contravention of this bylaw has occurred, the Director of ByLaw Enforcement may make an order requiring the person who contravened this bylaw, or who caused or permitted the contravention, or the owner of the land on which the contravention occurred, to discontinue the contravening activity.

(b) An order under s. 9(a) of this bylaw shall set out:

(i) reasonable particulars of the contravention adequate to identify the contravention and the location of the land on which the contravention occurred; and,

(ii) the date by which there must be compliance with the order.

(c) Any person who contravenes an order under s. 9(a) of this bylaw is guilty of an offence.


10.0 Work order 

(a) Where the Director of By-Law Enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe that a contravention of this bylaw has occurred, the Director of ByLaw Enforcement may make an order requiring the person who contravened this bylaw, or who caused or permitted the contravention, or the owner of the land on which the contravention occurred, to do work to correct the contravention.

(b) An order under s. 10(a) of this bylaw shall set out:

(i) reasonable particulars of the contravention adequate to identify the contravention and the location of the land on which the contravention occurred; and,

(ii) the work to be done and the date by which the work must be done.

(c) An order under s. 10(a) of this bylaw may require work to be done even though the facts which constitute the contravention of this bylaw were present before this by- law came into force. 10

(e) Any person who contravenes an order under s. 10(a) of this bylaw is guilty of an offence.


11.0 Remedial action 

(a) If a person fails to do a matter or thing, including comply with an order under this bylaw, as directed or required by this bylaw, the City may, in default of it being done by the person directed or required to do it, do the matter or thing at the person's expense. The City may recover the costs of doing a matter or thing from the person directed or required to do it by action or by adding the costs to the tax .roll and collecting them in the same manner as municipal taxes.

(b) The costs outlined in s. 11(a) of this bylaw shall include interest calculated at a rate of 15 per cent per annum, calculated for the period commencing on the day the City incurs the costs and ending on the day the costs, including the interest, are paid in full.

(c) The amount of the costs, including interest, constitutes a lien on the land upon the registration in the proper land registry office of a notice of lien. The lien is in respect of all costs that are payable at the time the notice is registered plus interest accrued to the date the payment is made. Upon receiving payment of all costs payable plus interest accrued to the date of payment, the City shall register a discharge of the lien in the proper land registry office.


12.0 Enforcement 

(a) This bylaw may be enforced by Municipal Law Enforcement Officers and Police Officers.


13.0 Penalties 

(a) Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this bylaw is guilty of an offence and pursuant to section 429 of the Municipal Act, 2001 all contraventions of this bylaw are designated as continuing offences.

(b) Every person, excluding a corporation, who is convicted of an offence, is liable to a maximum fine of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) for the first offence and a maximum fine of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) for a subsequent offence.

(c) Every corporation who is convicted of an offence is liable to a maximum fine of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) for the first offence and One 11 Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) for a subsequent offence

(d) In addition to the fine amounts set out in sections 13(b) and 13(c) of this bylaw, for each day or part of a day that an offence continues, the maximum fine shall be Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). The total of all daily fines for the offence is not limited to One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).


14.0 Fees and charges 

(a) Council may impose fees and charges to recover its costs in relation to the administration and enforcement of this bylaw.


15.0 Short title 

(a) This bylaw shall be known as the “Lot Maintenance By-Law.”


16.0 Severability 

(a) If a Court of competent jurisdiction should declare any section or part of a section of this bylaw to be invalid, such section or part of a section shall not be construed as having persuaded or influenced Council to pass the remainder of this bylaw and it is hereby declared that the remainder of this bylaw shall be valid and shall remain in full force and effect.


17.0 Repeal 

(a) By-Law 03-073 of the City is hereby repealed as well as all bylaws amending the same and any portions of the Municipal Code relating to lot maintenance.


18.0 Coming into force  

(a) This bylaw shall come into force and effect on January 1 , 2012.


Bring to top