You plan out your new walkway and retaining wall. You figure it will take you about two weekends to complete. You start your project. You set the grades. You dig to the depths shown on your plans. Things are just moving along perfectly. Then you receive a stop work order and are given a big fine. Next thing you know you are in the courts fighting the fine and trying to get your project started again since some of the stop work order was to revert the space back to the previous state.
Many of the Cities and Townships have requirements over and above the Ontario Building Code that require you to obtain a site plan approval and/or a building permit before starting certain types of landscape projects. Some of these permits carry fairly steep fines for breaking them. In Toronto, if you injure a tree without a permit, you can be fined up to a maximum of $100,000.00 per tree involved in the offense.
Permits are typically required for any retaining wall over 90 cm (3 feet), along with any deck 60 cm (2 feet) or more above the ground. In Hamilton, any deck over 10 square meters (90 square feet) at any height off the ground requires a permit. In Toronto, as mentioned above, any work within including access through the root zone of a tree requires a permit.
Along with the building permit requirements, most municipalities also have zoning and urban design guideline requirements. Some require a minimum 1.5 meter wide landscape buffer between hard surfaces and adjacent properties, whereas in other municipalities you can pave right to the property line.
It is worth the quick call to your local City’s building department to ask if you need any permits before starting. Some of these permits can take over a month or two to receive if it is a straight forward application to over a year or two for zoning changes. Most municipalities can typically give you a yes or no answer for permit requirements over the phone or email. If you do need a permit, a landscape architect like myself, can help you to filter through the permit application requirements and prepare the required drawings and documentations. For some projects, such retaining walls over 3 feet and high decks, a structural engineer review and approval may be required, which I can also assist you with.
So remember to check to see if your project requires a permit and always do your utilities locates before starting. http://www.on1call.com/
Have you had any horror stories dealing with the City’s By-law or Building Department? We would like to hear about them.
Beyond The POST
Happy New Year! Hope your holiday season was a great one!
As I sit and write this post, the weather outside is perfect! Gorgeously sunny, near 0°c (32°f). It is hard for me to keep my focus on work today. I keep thinking about strapping on the cross-country skis and going for a quick ski along the snow covered paths for a quick workout.
During our holiday break, I was able to head out for a two-day snowshoe hike along the Bruce Trail. As a landscape architect, I enjoy spending as much time in the landscape as possible, both urban and natural spaces. It is where I keep myself healthy: It reduces my blood pressure and stress levels. Nature provides for our needs if you know where to look. I always find hiking and being in nature recalibrating and can’t wait for the next trip!
On a recent outing, one of my great friends, Eric Chagnon of Get Outside Fitness, showed me how to use the surrounding parks and natural areas as fitness centres. There are so many great exercises one can do on a basic large rock or log, placed along or near a trail. Exercises such as step ups, planks, push ups, tricep dips, balancing and even crawling just to name a few.
There are cost advantage to using natural objects like rocks and logs in both installation and maintenance compared to manufactured equipment. The natural elements can be integrated into natural parks without looking out of place. As an added bonus, the workout stations can also double as a rest stop bench at scenic lookouts or is it the other way around? The design possibilities are endless and they can be easily placed along existing trails or designed as a part of a new trail system or addition.
As a design team, Eric and I can work with your parks facility staff, and stakeholders to design a great natural fitness trail within your park and budgets. We can design the trail for a wide variety of skill levels while engaging the whole family to improve their health, and help to increase positive users within your parks.
We look forward to the opportunity of creating a great fitness trail for your park. If you have any questions or would like to know more, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or phone 226-339-1899.
For more information about health benefits of nature see:
Sign up for our newsletter for more tips regarding all aspects of the landscape from site plan approval process for new developments, trail design tips through to maintenance tips and thought-provoking commentaries like this post.
I appreciate your time in reading this post and look forward to your comments, and questions.
Beyond The Post