Posted on January 13, 2010 (updated: January 13, 2010)

Ottawa backs down from legal challenge

OTTAWA – In a victory for homeowners and natural gardeners alike, City of Ottawa officials have backed down under threat of a legal battle and rescinded the notice of violation they issued over a local couple’s natural garden. They will now begin the process of reforming city bylaws to accommodate similar gardens in the future.

The announcement came Friday July 24th after Ecojustice received correspondence from the City of Ottawa. The violation notice had instructed the Joneses to cut down their garden or risk having the city do the work and send them the bill. The City has now agreed to review its bylaws to ensure they protect residents who choose to keep natural gardens on their property.

“This is exactly the outcome we hoped for,” said Henry Jones, “Natural gardens like ours are well cared for and provide enormous ecological benefit. We want them protected, and encouraged, for everyone’s well being.”

Henry and Vera Jones were told early in July that they were in violation of bylaw 2005-208, for failing to remove the heavy undergrowth, long grass, or weeds on their property. They approached Ecojustice in order to challenge the legality of the violation notice and the bylaw. Ecojustice will now work alongside city officials and the City’s volunteer advisory committees to draft a new bylaw that works for all parties.

“There’s no place for the state in the gardens of the nation,” says Ecojustice lawyer Will Amos, “Thanks to courage of Henry and Vera Jones, we can start talking about solutions that work for residents, the environment, and the city.”

The decision has widespread relevance for Ontario’s municipalities since the provincial ban on cosmetic pesticide use went into effect in April. That law offers greater protection to people’s health by banning the cosmetic use of 2,4-D and other pesticides that have been associated with neurological and reproductive disorders, as well as cancer.

The Joneses offer a successful alternative to chemically treated lawns and yards by working with native plants and encouraging pollinator insects.

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