Boulevard obligations

Guidelines, rules & restrictions you should know about

Above image:TAParchival

The Town of Cobourg’s Public Works Division would like to remind residents of the guidelines, rules and restrictions related to municipally-owned boulevards as many property owners begin preparing for spring landscaping projects and installations. 

A boulevard is the area of land that runs along the side of the street between a private property line and the curb or edge of the asphalt. The majority of the boulevard is the space between a sidewalk and the street however it often extends behind the sidewalk for a short distance as well. Boulevards are owned by the Town of Cobourg, form part of the municipal road allowance, and are required by law to be maintained by the adjacent property owner sharing the same street line. 

A road allowance allows for snow storage and infrastructure, including trees, ditches, culverts, water mains, communications, hydro, sanitary force mains and storm sewers. These services are installed in the boulevard to avoid having to dig up asphalt for maintenance and repairs. 

Municipal Bylaw Regulations Related to Boulevard

It is important to refer to Bylaw 049-2015, a bylaw to provide maintenance and protection of boulevards, to ensure that installations within the boulevard do not obstruct, interfere with, impede or affect the following: 

• Road maintenance including snow removal 

• Utility services 

• Pedestrian use of sidewalks 

• Traffic sightlines 

• Clearance of at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) from any fire hydrant of fire hydrant valve 

• Public health or safety 

The bylaw allows for the planting of gardens or landscaping occasionally, however, residents are required to contact the Public Works Division before installation to confirm there will be no impact to safety, maintenance operations or upcoming infrastructure work. Also, vegetation within the boulevard may not exceed 30-inches in height and cannot obstruct or overlay any sidewalk or curb. If the Town is required to take action due to lack of maintenance (i.e. trim hedges) the incurred costs may be charged back to the property owner. 

Responsibilities of a Property Owner

Typical maintenance activities required of the adjacent property owner include but are not limited to the following: 

• Cutting grass 

• Edging sidewalks 

• Weeding 

• Trimming hedges 

• Shovelling snow and removing ice on sidewalks 

Boulevard trees are maintained by the Town of Cobourg’s Parks Department, and residents are asked to not trim or prune the trees. Please contact the Town Arborist if you have any questions or concerns about your boulevard tree. 

In addition to the municipal bylaws, in 2018 under the Municipal Act, the Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways was amended by Ontario Regulation 366/18, which introduced a requirement to inspect sidewalk encroachments within 45cm (18 inches) of either side of a sidewalk, which may cause an accessibility or safety concern. Common examples of encroachments include: 

• Hockey and basketball nets 

• Signs 

• Retaining walls 

• Gardens or raised gardens 

• Hedges 

• Fences 

If you are planning a landscaping project or installation in your front yard or boulevard, contact the Public Works Division and Lakefront Utilities before digging or planting to ensure your proposed work is permitted and complies with the applicable bylaws. 

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