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Councillors may levy automatic fines for trashy yards

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Winnipeg may consider handing out automatic fines to residents who leave garbage lying around or let their grass grow too high.

This morning, council's protection and community services committee voted in favour of a plan to examine how Winnipeg could ticket landlords who do not provide adequate heat to tenants.

The idea was championed by Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre), who said more than 300 landlords in 2012 violated the basic heat requirement for tenants.

Peter de Graaf, manager of the city's bylaw enforcement, called it a "great idea" to ticket landlords who do not provide adequate heat, and said the city also wants to examine whether it could issue automatic tickets to residents who violate other parts of Winnipeg's neighbourhood livability bylaw, such as leaving garbage in their yard or having illegal signs.

Right now, de Graaf said the city issues common offence notices to people who violate the bylaw, and the fine is set by a judge in bylaw court.

However, de Graaf said it takes between six and eight weeks for a first court appearance, and the process could take six months or longer to resolve if someone pleads not guilty.

He said issuing automatic set fines could deter residents and landlords from violating the bylaw in the first place.

City administration will report back to the committee in October about how a new process could work.

"It's a great idea," de Graaf said.

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