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We saved Burlington's milkweed and monarchs

On June 30, Doreen Nicoll published an article about bylaws in the City of Burlington that mandated the removal of milkweed, the only plant that monarch butterflies lay eggs on, from all yards. 

A huge thank you to everyone who contacted Burlington's Mayor and City Council to voice their support to save our milkweed! 

On July 6, Chief Planner and Director Heather MacDonald released a memo which in part states,

The Municipal Law Enforcement team has drafted a new Lot Maintenance By-law to replace Lot Maintenance By-law 12-2011. It will be brought forward to Council for consideration in September, 2018. The new Lot Maintenance By-law will align with the Province's Weed Control Act with respect to noxious weeds.

Part of Lot Maintenance By-Law 12-2011 enforces tall grass and weeds. Currently in the Lot Maintenance By-law, milkweed is considered a noxious weed under Schedule A. In 2011, milkweed was considered a noxious weed under the Weed Control Act in the Province of Ontario. In 2014, milkweed was taken off the list of noxious weeds under the Weed Control Act.

Between now and when Council considers the new Lot Maintenance By-law, Municipal Law Enforcement staff will not be enforcing the removal of milkweed from properties.

Originally, on June 29, I received a Notice of Violation stating I was in contravention of By-law #12-2011 Part 3 3.1(b) which enforces, "Every owner of property shall ensure that grass and ground cover is trimmed or cut to a height of 20 centimeters (8 inches) or less and shall ensure weeds are removed or destroyed between May 1 and October 15 each calendar year."

The Notice of Violation stated the action I needed to undertake was, "Remove or destroy milkweeds from front yard abutting the sidewalk and adjacent property" within seven days or by July 6.

With the research and information supplied by environmentalists and actionists from across Southern Ontario, city staff made the changes necessary to protect this beautiful plant that is vital to the survival of monarch butterflies.

In cities across Ontario candidates are registering to run for municipal office. Take the time to ask your candidates their strategy for addressing climate change, but also ask about the specific environmental issues facing your town or city. You may need to do some research so contact your local chapter of the Council of Canadians; sustainable development committees; waterway restoration groups; and local environmental clubs.

Don't accept the answer that municipal government is not the level of government that deals with these issues. We need all levels of government working together in order to save this planet.

On October 22, get out and vote for mayors, city councillors, and school trustees that will ensure we leave this world in a stronger environmental state than it currently is today.

Image: Adam Skowronski/Flickr

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