Builders back city councillor’s bid for new-home landscaping deadline

Photo Credit: MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

I am requesting the public service create a by-law that requires new homeowners to landscape the front yards of single family dwellings. Currently the City only requires front yard landscaping on multi-family and commercial developments.
Thank you Winnipeg Free Press for covering this important neighbourhood liveabilty issue.


Builders back city councillor’s bid for new-home landscaping deadline

By: Joyanne Pursaga | Posted: 09/2/2020 7:00 PM

A Winnipeg city councillor wants to impose clear deadlines on owners of new homes to complete basic landscaping on their lots.

Coun. Janice Lukes said she’s received multiple complaints about yards where landscaping isn’t completed for several years. She believes those properties are at greater risk of attracting rodents and weeds that can also affect neighbouring properties.

“Many people don’t find it important to them to do anything to their front yard, other than leave it in gravel and mud,” said Lukes (Waverley West).

“This becomes a neighbourhood liveability issue for other people… the weeds go to seed and this impacts people that have (sometimes) spent tens of thousands of dollars on their landscaping or front yard.”

The councillor said she once went to a lot where the weeds were tall enough to reach her shoulders.

Lukes said she’d like the city to require homeowners to complete some basic landscaping within the third year after a new home is built or earlier, whether it’s grass, rocks, indigenous plants or some combination thereof. She expects that deadline would allow a reasonable amount of time for lots to settle and be graded before they must be landscaped.

Right now, Lukes said the city can do little to address the problem beyond following up on weed complaints and ordering a homeowner to mow any growth that exceeds 15 centimetres (six inches) in height.

“There is no enforcement tool that the city has at their disposal to make the developer or the homeowner landscape their yard, other than making sure (as a) neighbourhood liveability issue, that the weeds are mowed,” she said.

The councillor has raised a motion that calls for city staff to study a possible bylaw change that would set basic landscape criteria and timelines for the city to enforce, which will be debated at the Sept. 9 meeting of the Assiniboia Community Committee.

Lukes did not suggest a specific fine or penalty to be applied if the rules are ignored.

She noted some developers voluntarily place deadlines for yards to be added but said a uniform city rule should help motivate others.

The Manitoba Home Builders’ Association said its members generally impose their own yard deadlines, with some even charging homeowners a deposit to ensure the work is done by a certain date.

MHBA president Lanny McInnes said the deposit amounts and timelines can vary by builder. He said he has no concerns about Lukes’ proposal to add a uniform city rule.

“We don’t have any issue with the councillor’s motion that will look at a three-year deadline… I think that’s pretty reasonable,” said McInnes.

David Borger, vice-president of development for Ladco, said his company requires the owners of new homes to pay a $2,500 deposit, which is refunded if they add basic landscaping within two years of the home’s completion.

“We had noticed that in some areas (unfinished yards were) a problem. We wanted to get in front of that…. By getting a refundable deposit, it speeds up the process,” said Borger.

He said adding a city rule to ensure the job gets done is a good idea, as long as the final timeline is long enough to ensure homeowners who move in during the winter have time to complete the work.

“As long as the city was aware of realistic timelines, I don’t think there’d be an issue,” said Borger.