Wonky lot layouts force Fort Erie to look at new yard definitions

To ensure pools and other structures are built on appropriate areas of a homeowner’s property, a Fort Erie councillor has asked staff to reconsider the municipality’s definition of a backyard.

Nick Dubanow brought forward a motion at the February 26th council meeting that tasks staff with looking at the definitions set out in planning policies regarding yards on home lots. As currently defined, the town’s policies can lead to strange building permit decisions, especially on narrow properties and other oddly shaped lots.

“This has been an issue I’ve run into a few times with residents of the community,” Dubanow told councillors at the meeting.

Most recently, he said a resident reached out to him about a pool they were hoping to build at their home. However, because the town defines front, side, and back yards based on their relation to the long and narrow portions of each property, Dubanow said their permit was denied.

Not only do the definitions prohibit some people from building things like pools in their backyard, they could also lead to people being completely within their rights to build a pool or structure on what is ostensibly their front yard.

“I don’t think we want individuals in the community who are constructing pools using this loophole to start constructing them in their front yards,” he said.

He said the odd property layouts are common in Garrison Village, and also in other parts of the community like Crystal Beach.

Dubanow’s motion, which was approved by his fellow councillors, asks staff to come back with a report in June that reviews the current definitions and proposes updates “to accurately reflect the definition of front, rear and (interior/exterior) yards of those lots,” the report said.

The councillor originally asked to have the report back by May so council could deal with it and the homeowners could get their pool built in time for summer. However, staff said that might be too quick of a turnaround and asked to push the timeline back to June.

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