The draft Site Alteration By-law [ PDF 249 KB ] is now available for your review. This version includes explanatory notes in the margin that are not part of the by-law but may help you understand how the by-law was developed and what the different sections are meant to address.
Please provide your feedback to Amy MacPherson no later than Monday, September 25.
Amy MacPherson, Planner II
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
The draft by-law has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders, using the City’s existing Drainage By-law as a foundation. This proposed new by-law would replace the Drainage By-law and the former municipalities’ topsoil protection by-laws. It would not apply to any area already regulated by one of our local Conservation Authorities, such as a floodplain or a significant wetland.
What would this mean to you?
In most cases, residents would not need to obtain the City’s approval before beginning site alteration, but they would need to follow the rules in the by-law.
The proposed rules for site alteration can be summarised as follows:
- Get permission before working on someone else’s property.
- Do not cause drainage problems.
- Follow all other applicable municipal, provincial and federal rules.
- Do not damage the productivity of agricultural soils.
- Get City approval if your work will be impacting significant natural areas.
- Get a tree permit before working around protected trees.
- Notify your neighbours if you will be working within 30 metres of their property.
- Notify your City planner before working on a site during the planning process.
- Control sediment and erosion, where necessary.
- Protect trees and other things located near your work area, where necessary, to prevent accidental damage during the work.
- Use clean fill.
- If you find any archaeological resources, stop work and call the City and Province for advice.
Rules 1, 2 and 3 apply to everyone. The draft by-law allows for exceptions to several of the other rules for property maintenance, minor landscaping, farming, woodlot management, approved developments, and aggregate extraction.
You do not need to ask the City for approval or notify anyone to top-dress your lawn, put in a new garden bed or plant new trees or shrubs. In addition to rules 1, 2 and 3, rules 9 to 12 of the by-law also apply. For most gardening projects, meeting these rules is not difficult – don’t work during extreme rain events, be careful, and use topsoil from reputable suppliers. It is extremely unlikely that any archaeological resources would still be present in developed residential areas.
Septic fields and in-ground pools
If you need to replace your septic field or want to install an in-ground pool, you would be subject to the same rules that apply to gardening. If you will be working within 30 metres of your property boundary, you would also need to notify your immediate neighbours. Check to see if the project would affect the critical root zone of any City-owned tree or any tree protected under the City’s Urban Tree Conservation By-law, and get a tree permit if needed. Other regulations do apply to such projects (contact the Ottawa Septic System Office for more information about septic fields, or your local Client Service Centre for information about the City’s Pool Enclosure By-law).
You do not need to ask the City for approval or notify anyone before carrying out normal farm practices. Normal farm practices include activities such as cultivating fields, spreading manure, installing and maintaining fences, planting or removing hedgerows and windbreaks, and maintaining drainage or irrigation systems. Rules 1, 2, 3 and 9 to 12 apply. Most farmers are already using best practices to protect their soils, and will not be affected by these rules.
If you have already received approval from the City under the Planning Act or Building Code Act, you are subject to rules 1, 2 and 3 and must follow your conditions of approval. If you will be working within 30 metres of your property boundary, you will need to notify neighbouring property owners before starting work. If you want to start work on a site before receiving City approvals, you must notify the City planner overseeing your application and follow rules 9 to 12. Other rules in the by-law may apply depending on the location and context of the site.
If the City receives a complaint under the new by-law, staff with expertise in the issues related to the complaint will investigate it to determine if any rules were not followed. If staff determine that a contravention has occurred, the City can require work to be done to correct the problem.