The city is ordering a Thulin Street homeowner to cut down a “beautiful” hedge that city staff say is a safety hazard.
Staff sent a letter to the homeowner on Jan. 13 ordering the hedge be cut down to a height of no more than one metre.
The homeowner did not comply with the 30 day timeline, however, and at Monday’s council meeting, council approved a remedial action notice against the property which allows the city to go onto the property and complete the work at the homeowner’s expense.
The owner of the property, Steve Mitchell, was at Monday’s council meeting and told council the hedge was approved by the city several years ago.
“In 2004 we were granted a permit to fill in the 3rd Avenue ditch line, which we did, at which time we talked with city staff and got a permit to plant the hedge where we indeed planted it,” said Mitchell, adding that the city imposed conditions that the hedge not be more than five metres tall and remain in the area where it was originally planted – all conditions Mitchell said he has abided by.
He asked council Monday if there was a grandfather clause, a variance or some other “fair and equitable solution” that could be worked out. Mitchell said a sprinkler system is already in place and cutting the hedge so drastically would affect the entire hedge which runs along the corner of Thulin and 3rd Avenue.
“It’s a major inconvenience,” he said.
Council thanked Mitchell for his input and questioned whether staff had met with Mitchell to try and reach a compromise.
City Clerk Peter Wipper said there is no compromise when it comes to safety.
“As a vehicle approaches an intersection, it needs sufficient sight distance in order to see oncoming traffic,” Wipper said.
“In this particular case, because the hedge is situated outside the property line, it doesn’t meet those requirements and that corner would have to be taken off.
“I can tell you that both engineering and bylaw staff have looked at this property very carefully. Mr. Mitchell keeps his property up exceptionally well, it’s a beautiful hedge,” Wipper added. “The last thing we want to do is see it cut back but at the same time we’re also concerned about the safety of the intersection, ensuring we don’t have any possible accidents there.”
Coun. Ron Kerr agreed that while the hedge is in good condition, at the same time it’s compromising traffic safety.
“I’m just looking at it on Google street view right now,” Kerr said at Monday’s council meeting. “It is a beautiful hedge but it is a significant infringement on the view lines and I know personally if you cut it back, there’s serious work that’s going to need to be done on it (but) it’s definitely a safety issue at this point.”
Despite that, Wipper said staff have made an effort to keep the cut required down to the very minimum.
“Our engineering staff…did everything they could to possibly reduce that cut,” said Wipper, adding that the city’s transportation specialist determined that pruning to the extent required by the city’s bylaw wasn’t necessary to sufficiently mitigate the hazard.
Wipper said while there is no compromise on the safety of the intersection, staff is open to speaking with Mitchell about what he was told in 2004 concerning the planting of the hedge.
In the meantime, according to the remedial action approved by council, Mitchell has 30 days to prune the hedge unless a solution can be reached.