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City of Ottawa planting new rules for front yard gardens

(Source: Freepik) (Source: Freepik)

Ottawa residents may soon be allowed to build a garden in their front yard close to the road, as the city looks to clarify streetscape rules while also encouraging pollinator gardens and preventing heat-island effects.

The city of Ottawa has unveiled proposed updates to the Use and Care of Roads Bylaw, with staff recommending the city allow gardening projects within the right-of-way on city property.

The current bylaw does not allow for the removal of grass within the city of Ottawa right-of-way and requires homeowners to cut the grass and weeds on the land abutting their property.  The right-of-way is the city-owned portion of land that may abut your property.

Last spring, Council approved a motion from councillors Laura Dudas and Rawlson King to direct staff to review the rules to allow residents or community groups to create landscaping projects within the right of way.

Now, staff say "modernizing" the bylaw will provide residents with more gardening options, "while also ensuring that the ROW remains safe and accessible to City operations, utilities and other users."

Staff say there are a "host of benefits in having more gardening options", including encouraging naturalization and pollinator gardens, increasing drought and soil erosion resistance and promoting climate change resiliency.

Under the proposed changes, residential gardens will be allowed on the "right-of-way" with the following conditions:

  • Only soft landscaping permitted (no landscaping materials such as pavers, riverstone or gravel)
  • No noxious weeds and invasive species
  • Vegetables, fruit, herbs, nuts and seeds will not be permitted
  • Only hand-digging will be permitted for the installation of residential gardens
  • No gardening will be permitted within a ditch
  • Plants cannot exceed a maximum height of 0.75 metres
  • Sidewalks must remain clear and unobstructed

If the city allows gardens within the right-of-way, the city says gardens must not be located within one metre of a city tree and within 1.5 metres of a fire hydrant. Residents will not be allowed to set up a garden within the area of an OC Transpo bus stop.

A report will be presented to the transportation committee in June with proposed changes to the Use and Care of Roads By-law. Top Stories

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