Sundridge is attempting to introduce standards for how fences are constructed and maintained in the municipality. The proposed bylaw will prohibit any fence from going up if it's made from hazardous materials or includes dangerous parts, such as barbed wire or razor wire or any sharp projections that could hurt people. The exception to this is if the fence in question is regulated by government authorities above the municipality, such as the provincial or federal governments. The exemptions aside, Coun. Steve Hicks welcomes the provision that prohibits materials like barbed wire from being put on fences. It's one thing if a building with a barbed wire fence is well away from busy intersections and areas with heavy foot traffic, he said, but quite another if the fence is close to the general public. “For me it's out of sight, out of mind,” Hicks said. “If we don't see it and people are not walking past it, then that's not a bad thing. Also we don't look like we're in a demilitarized zone.” An aspect of the proposed bylaw that there is no getting around in the short term is that it will grandfather the characteristics of existing fences if they were up before the final bylaw takes effect. This means fences with sharp projections would be exempt from the bylaw. But if at some future point that existing fence needs to be replaced or reconstructed, it has to conform to the new fence bylaw. The bylaw will also prohibit the construction of fences made from sheet metal or corrugated metal panels. It will also be against the law to erect a fence in such a way that it obstructs lines of sight to vehicle traffic or traffic signs. Homeowners can't put up a fence in their backyard or along the side that's taller than two metres. If the fence is going to be in the front of the yard, two height limits apply depending on how the fence is constructed. If the fence is a solid structure, the height can't exceed one metre but it can go as high as 1.2 metres if it has openings in between the materials. Homeowners with existing fences that exceed the provisions of the bylaw will be exempt from the rules until it's time for them to replace or reconstruct the fence. Fences built in non-residential areas, like in an industrial zone, can go as high as 2.4 metres. When new fences are being built, the bylaw calls for them to be securely anchored, they need to be built from materials that are not broken or rusted beforehand, and after being put up, they need to be painted or stained to prevent peeling. Two sections of the bylaw will have applicable fines for failure to comply. Originally staff called for $300 fines if a person fails to comply with the conditions of the fence bylaw and a separate $300 fine if the fence is not maintained. At the suggestion of Councillor Steve Hicks, the fines for both sections are being bumped up to $500. “People respond to costs,” Hicks said as his rationale to make non compliance a more expensive penalty. The proposed bylaw is back for a final vote at the Sept. 8 meeting of council.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget