A Quebec City couple is battling the city council over a municipal bylaw prohibiting synthetic grass, claiming they only learned the fake lawn covering was not allowed after spending thousands of dollars to install it in their front and back yards.
The couple now faces a fine of $1,000 a day or more if they refuse to remove it.
Many homeowners dream of a yard that doesn’t require maintenance — no watering, no cutting, just time to stop and smell the flowers.
Martin Dignard thought he had found the perfect solution. Though his flowers in the flower bed are still real, his new lawn is fake. He made the decision based on more than just convenience.
“I had a lot of allergies when I cut the grass and so does my wife’s son,” he said.
While the cost of putting in turf would be prohibitive to many households, Dignard said he was lucky that, as a denturist, he could afford it.
However, after having the lawn installed last October at a cost of $8,000, he received a notice from the city. Dignard and his wife were eventually informed that if they don’t remove the synthetic lawn by Oct. 31, they will face a fine of $1,000 or more a day until they comply.
“It’s abhorrent,” he said.
According to one of the letters addressed to the couple, officials from Quebec City said a lack of vegetation can create an urban heat island effect, a phenomenon where a city can experience higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. The city also listed the fact that the material is not recyclable as one of the reasons that synthetic turf is banned everywhere except sport terrains.
“Las Vegas is full of synthetic lawns, Florida as well. I didn’t understand,” Dignard said.
He explained that the local contractor he hired has offered to take out the synthetic lawn and replace it with something else, but Dignard has now started a petition to urge the city to change the bylaw.
Local landscaper Patrick Hughes, owner of Asphalte PH, said that synthetic laws are becoming more popular despite the cost.
“You don’t have to pay for water,” he pointed out. “And aesthetically, it always looks good.”
The city itself chose synthetic grass for an outdoor spot at the local Gabrielle-Roy Library.
No one from the city was available for comment on Wednesday.