Sunday, March 4, 2012

Composting restrictions will be hard to retract


There are some scary doings afoot in London!

A Public Participation Meeting for citizens to comment on some proposed changes to what is now called the Clearing of Land By-law PW-9 (2) will be part of the Public Safety Committee (3) meeting on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. (An exact time is not set for the PPM, but we'll hope for the earlier part of the meeting!)

Some of these changes have to do with composting - putting restrictions on the size and type of composting done.

Putting regulations on composting - lumping compost and composting together with refuse and graffiti bylaw changes - seems to me to be a bad precedent.

I do not think these proposals about composting were written with mean intent by the bylaw office. It takes a long time for changes to bylaws to be handled by staff and get through procedures; it might just have seemed an expedient way to handle compost complaints at the same time as garbage issues and graffiti were dealt with.

However, composting exists in a positive context of gardens, the ability of gardeners to innovate and care for the lands in their charge, and food sovereignty.

I hope you can make the time to read through the proposed changes, the full draft of the bylaw changes (4) if you are inclined ... and come on out to the March 6 public participation meeting, or get in touch with a member of the committee (3).

Best regards,

Why's Woman

The pertinent sections from the draft proposed bylaw changes are here in italics:

By implementing by-law regulations that address the containment and location of refuse and compost, various results can be achieved including the reduction of incidences of scattered garbage due to rodent, animal and bird ransacking, and the reduction of drifting garbage odours. The inclusion of regulations to address the removal of graffiti will further improve aesthetics within our community.

3) Compost containment

Currently the by-law defines but does not regulate compost containment. The proposed amendment introduces compost containment and location regulations.

2.11 Compost – containment and location

Every owner of a residential property shall ensure that all compost which accumulates on their property is:

contained within not more than 4 compost containers on their property; and

contained within containers that each:

(i) have a maximum area not greater than 1.0m²;

(ii) have a maximum height of not higher than 1.8m;

(iii) is located in the rear yard;

(iv) is enclosed on all sides by concrete blocks, a lumber structure, a metal frame, or a commercially manufactured compost container;

(v) does not include a fence or a building wall as one or more of the sides of a composter; and

(6) is covered in a manner to prevent the entry of rodents or other animals.

2.12 Leaf Compost – containment and location

If a residential property owner chooses to compost leaves, the property owner shall ensure that all leaf compost which accumulates on their property which is not contained within a compost container as set out in section 2.11 is:

(a) contained within not more than 1 leaf compost area on their property; and

(b) contained within a leaf compost area that:

(i) has a maximum area not greater than 9.29 m²;

(ii) has a maximum height of not higher than 1.2m;

(iii) is located in the rear yard;

(iv) is enclosed on all sides by concrete blocks, a lumber structure, a metal or wire frame, or a commercially manufactured compost container;

(v) does not include a fence or a building wall as one or more of the sides of a compost area; and

(vi) holds nothing more than leaves and soil.

Policy changes to do with alternative garden styles, boulevard gardening and naturalization of areas on property have been talked about for years. A report submitted in July 2009 was received - meaning shelved never to be seen again. (1)

There is a review being done this academic term by several students from Western's Master of Environment and Sustainability program. They are looking at London's bylaws and policies that might affect the future of urban agriculture in London. This will be an important start to much future work.

Possible points to comment on

Things to do with composting in general and your own thoughts as a gardener... that you can come up with on your own, I'm sure!
- compost is to be encouraged as a major soil builder
- composting keeps materials out of the waste stream - the City's Environment Services Department states this often
London has yet to institute a green bin program - why restrict people's composting on site? Composting at home is a more cost-effective way of dealing with kitchen and garden "waste" (really soil building materials)
- many innovative composting methods and plans are in magazines and reference books - the 1.0m square size is too small for a double or triple compost units where turning is done - and those aren't ever enclosed on all sides - if anything they are kept open on the front side for easy access
- enclosed on all sides is .... unnecessary, detrimental to development of compost- a large garden can easily absorb 60 - 100 bags of collected leaves each year ... why should there be a requirement they be stored in an enclosed space? And now, even the paper bags we collect leaves in are compostable at home!
- why is composting going to a Public Safety Committee anyway???!!!

The City supports composting in various ways on the City website

- through the yearly Compost Value Day ( )

- through its association with Thames Region Ecological Association, which has long advocated composting and initiated composting programs and recycling programs in the City

Show up at the Public Safety Committee meeting 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 6/12
You do not have to be registered to speak at the Public Participation Meeting part of this. There is always a call for people to get up and speak. There's not been a time set for the PPM, but it's likely it will be held early on, especially if quite a few people turn up.

If you e-mail or phone one of the members of the Safety Committee direct you comment to the person you think will listen. Make your comment specific to an interest you know the person has, and be positive or constructive in your comment .

Speak to someone in the City Bylaw office if you have questions.
Heather Chapman
, Coordinator, Municipal Law Enforcement Services 519-661-2500 ext 5292. - she is a good resource person.

(1) Boulevard Naturalization Update, London website, archived meeting agenda and report for ETC meeting July 20, 2009

(2) Clearing of Land By-law PW-9 Can be brought up, in full as a pdf from the Public Welfare section of the Bylaws index page:

(3 ) Public Safety Committee considers and reports to Council on matters to do with Public Safety including police and fire service, EMS services, Licensing and By-law Enforcement and Property Standards [
It meets on 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, usually once a month.

Current members are:
Councillor D. Brown (Chair)
Mayor Fontana (ex-officio)
Councillor Armstrong
Councillor Bryant
Councillor Hubert
Councillor Polhill


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