Turf wars: do residents have a duty to cut boulevard grass or is it forced labour?

Cities across Canada have bylaws stating property owners must maintain the boulevard next to their yard, or face fines.

Many cities across Canada have bylaws forcing property owners to cut the grass next to their home or face a penalty.

Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton are a few of the municipalities that enforce this rule. If a homeowner skips out on maintaining the city-owned boulevard, residents could face a fine, or worse, face a judge.

One Winnipeg resident is going through this kind of legal turf battle with the city.

Richard Hykaway, a military veteran, refused to cut the boulevard grass next to his property. He said it amounted to forced labour that violated his rights and freedoms.

“Back in the day, slaves were kept. They were clothed, maybe not well. They were fed, maybe not well. But they were provided equipment and given what they needed to [perform] the work,” Hykawy said.
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The City of Winnipeg fined Hykawy saying it’s his duty to maintain the boulevard.

Hykawy will be heading to court in September to battle the fine. He was also in court in 2013 for another boulevard battle. He launched a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to not be obliged to cut grass. The case was adjourned indefinitely in September 2013.

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As the Winnipeg property case rages on, Global News looked at the different bylaws and fines for boulevard maintenance across the country.

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It is the duty of Torontonian homeowners to maintain the boulevards adjacent to their homes — unless they can convince the city they should not. This includes making sure the boulevard is litter-free, trimming trees and cutting the grass.

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Fine: $200 and any costs incurred by the city to perform any required repairs or alterations.


If you own a property next to a boulevard, you are responsible for taking care of the boulevard.

The city encourages resident to landscape the area by growing plants and gardens and even provides an online guide.

Fine: $250


City homeowners have been required by law to cut the grass on boulevards next to their properties since 1992. Winnipeg’s neighbourhood livability bylaw says homeowners have to mow boulevard grass next to their properties and control weeds, provided it isn’t located on a major thoroughfare.

Fine: $107 flat fee plus $77 per hour for work billed by public works. The maximum fine a judge can impose is $1,000.


Property owners in Calgary are responsible for caring for and maintaining the area next to their property, such as boulevards, up to the middle of the alley and the street.

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Fine: $400

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Edmonton homeowners are on the hook to cut grass to a reasonable length on the boulevard next to the property. Owners must also clean up leaves and prune trees on the boulevard.

Fine: $250


Under the city’s bylaw, a Halifax property owner is responsible for maintaining the grass between the sidewalk and the curb.

Fine: $237.50


Under the use and care of roads bylaw an Ottawa home owner has to cut the grass and weeds and remove garbage on the boulevard next to their home.

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Fine: $205

— With files from The Canadian Press

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