Municipal Bylaws and Naturalized Gardens

Lorraine Johnson has shared her presentation on Oct 1, 2022 through the David Suzuki Foundation. Butterflyway Webinar: Municipal bylaws (1.5hrs)

Project Swallowtail and In The Zone Gardens are excellent sources for native plants gardens in Toronto.

Other links to legislation, and related articles.

Ontario Court of Justice ruling (Sandra Elizabeth Bell v. Toronto) decision: PDF file created from a TIFF image by tiff2pdf (

Superior Court ruling (Counter v. Toronto):

Court of Appeal ruling (Counter v. Toronto):

“Bogged Down: Water-wise Gardeners Get the Flush,” by Lorraine Johnson:

David Donnelly of Donnelly Law is a lawyer with much expertise in defense of those charged (or threatened with charges) under grass and weeds bylaws. David has prepared a template letter that he makes available to people dealing with grass and weeds bylaw enforcement.

The Ecological Design Lab (, Nina-Marie Lister’s lab at Toronto Metropolitan
University, includes numerous resources related to grass and weeds bylaws and reform on its website.
i) Final report “Cultivating Support Through Municipal Codes”:
ii) “Enhancing Biodiversity in Private Property: A Toolkit for Local Governments”:
iii) Bylaws for Biodiversity: Re-Modelling City of Toronto’s Municipal Code Chapter 489, Grass and Weeds,
major research paper by Carly Murphy:
iv) Model bylaw developed by Carly Murphy:

For resources on recent community efforts to reform the grass and weeds bylaw in Waterloo, see

OpEd by Lorraine Johnson and Nina-Marie Lister regarding grass and weeds bylaws, published in the
Toronto Star, September 1, 2020:

Webinar “Barriers, By-laws, and the Biophilic City: Advancing Natural Gardens and Native Plants in Our
Cities!” hosted by Ecological Design Lab, with panelists Nina-Marie Lister, David Donnelly and
Lorraine Johnson in conversation, and guests Mark Cullen and Patricia Landry, December 17, 2021:

Webinar by Nina-Marie Lister, “Challenging Lawn Order: Barriers, Bylaws & the Biophilic City,”
March 10, 2021:

For more information on the Sinclair case in Smiths Falls, see:
ii) Link to recording of Smiths Falls Property Standards Appeal Committee hearing, January 25, 2022:
iii) Link to Lorraine Johnson’s letter to Smiths Falls Town Council urging them to withdraw the Orders
to Comply for the Sinclairs’ garden and to reform the grass and weeds bylaw:

Excellent article by Joyce Hostyn, Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners, “Challenging Bylaw Complaints”:

The Local Scoop, a news digest of info related to native plants and affiliated with the North American
Native Plant Society, has written extensively on grass and weeds bylaws and the legal rulings.

Allan Greenbaum’s dissertation “Lawn as a Site of Environmental Conflict” (2000) is full of great
information and analysis of the lawn, especially in the context of pesticide regulation and also includes
some analysis of the Sandy Bell case. Link to the dissertation Introduction (where you can find links
to all the chapters and bibliography):

“7 Gardens Brought Before the Law” essay, by Lorraine Johnson:

“Garden Regulations: Rethinking Milkweed” article by Lorraine Johnson regarding the 2018 case in
Burlington in which gardener Doreen Nicoll was ordered to remove the milkweed from her garden and
she fought back: