The By-law Enforcement Division is located on the second floor of City Hall. Staff there will be able to help you with your by-law concerns.

 What is a by-law?
 A by-law is a law passed by a municipality reflecting council’s desired quality of life within the community. It has effect only within that municipality.

View the City By-laws

 By-law enforcement

In the City of Port Colborne, Municipal Law Enforcement Officers are responsible for the administration of by-laws in combination with the following:

  • Community and Economic Development Department
  • Planning and Development Department
  • Building Division
  • Port Colborne Fire & Emergency Services
  • Niagara Regional Police 
  • Region of Niagara
  • Province of Ontario

Municipal Law Enforcement Officers are trained and accredited by the Province. They benefit from backgrounds that cover extensive law enforcement responsibilities. Under the direction of City Council, officers strive to protect the city’s persons and properties through its by-laws either by obtaining compliance or initiating legal proceedings.

 By-law infractions

Although inspections are regularly conducted throughout the year, further inspections are carried out in specific areas on a seasonal basis to identify obvious by-law infractions. However, enforcement is usually triggered through the complaint process. Names of complainants are kept confidential subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Upon receipt of a complaint, officers form an investigation plan and initiate first contact with the subject of the complaint within 48 hours if possible. Officers will then attempt to obtain cooperation compliance by bringing the violation to the attention of the individual(s). A period or periods of time may be given for compliance before legal proceedings are initiated.

 Legal proceedings

When an officer is satisfied and believes the only way to deal with a situation is to initial legal proceedings, he or she may choose one or a combination of the following options:

  1. Lay a charge
  2. Issue or obtain an order
  3. Have the work performed by the municipality

If the work is performed by the municipality, the costs will be applied to the homeowner’s municipal tax bill. Once a charge is laid, the defendant may choose a plea of not guilty and a trail date set.

 Can I change a by-law?
You can apply to change a by-law through the Council of the City of Port Colborne through the Municipal Clerks office at (905) 835-2901 Ext. 106. If your application is denied you can appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Its decision is final.
 Encroachment By-law

A by-law that provides guidelines and requirements regarding encroachments on municipal property. If you are a business owner looking to set up a pop-up patio, please see our Pop-up Patio Guide and Application Form.

Please see our Encroachment Application Form for other encroachments such as signs, benches, ramps, etc. 

 Fence By-law

All fences, hedges, garden walling, retaining walls natural and non-natural barriers, erected, constructed or grown shall be solely contained within the limits of the owner and/or owners’ property including all foundations and footings. 

Fence locationHeight limit
Front yard  1 metre
Interior side yard  2 metres
Exterior side yard  1 metre (adjacent to road)
Rear yard  2 metres
Sight triangle 0.75 metres
Parallel to driveway  1 metre with 50% visibility

You do not require a permit to build a fence. However, you must adhere to prescribed height and property line restrictions. The by-law includes definitions of material restrictions and penalties for non-compliance. Please note, there is not good side or bad side of a fence under our by-law.

If you are looking for temporary relief from our Fence By-law based on certain circumstances, please see our Request for Relief from Fence By-law Application Form

See the Fences page for more information.

 Licensing
A business licence is required to carry on many kinds of business or trades within the city. If you plan to open a business, you must apply to the municipality, describe the kind of business and where it will be. Staff of the Planning, Building and Fire Departments will review the application before a final decision is made. Please contact the Licensing Clerk at (905) 835-2900 ext. 121.
 Lot Maintenance By-law

A by-law that provides that a municipality may require the owner or occupant of land to clean and clear the land. All properties are required to keep clean and free of:

  • Rubbish, debris, objects or conditions that might create a health, fire or accident hazard
  • Wrecked, dismantled, discarded or abandoned machinery, vehicles, trailers or boats
  • Vehicles unlicensed for the current year and not properly enclosed and protected
  • Long grass, bush, undergrowth and noxious weeds as defined in the Weed Control Act as amended
  • Dead, decayed or damaged trees or other natural growth
  • All garbage shall be placed in containers with tight fitting covers

Weed season starts in early May and continues until the first frost, usually in October. All noxious weeds must be cut and/or destroyed throughout weed season.

 Nuisance/Noise By-law

A by-law that address complaints from the general public. Examples include barking dogs, loud music, shouting or any unusual noises that may disturb a person’s reasonable enjoyment.

If you are looking for temporary relief from our Noise By-law for a certain event, please see our Request for Relief from Noise By-law Application Form.

 Parking

A by-law that manages and enforces municipal parking. Prohibited and Permit parking is identified by municipal signage, particularly when it comes to disabled parking. However, some parking prohibitions do not require signage. For example, vehicles cannot park so they are obstructing driveways, fire routes, fire hydrants or sidewalks. In the case of temporary parking restrictions, including parking interfering with snow removal, you can find this information in the local newspaper, under latest news on the City web page or you can subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.

If you have received a parking ticket, see our detailed information relating to parking for further assistance.

 Property Standards By-law

A by-law that prescribes standards for the maintenance and occupancy of property within the municipality. Buildings are required to be structurally sound and their components are required to be in good repair and protected against deterioration.

If you are a Tenant and wish to register a complaint under our Property Standards By-law, our Compliance Request Form must be completed. Are you having rental property issues? See our step-by-step guide which includes detailed information on the process of registering a complaint.

 Sign By-law

A by-law that prohibits or regulates signs, advertising devices and the posting of notices on buildings or vacant lots within the city. The by-law regulates in detail the erection, location, construction, alteration, repair, use and maintenance of all signs and advertising devices.

If you are looking for temporary relief from our Sign By-law, please see our Request for Relief from Sign By-law Application Form

 Site Alteration By-law 
A by-law that regulates or prohibits the removal of topsoil the placing or dumping of fill and the alteration of the grade of land unless a Permit is issued. Please see our Site Alteration Application Form with applicable fee schedule attached.
 Snow and Ice
All snow and ice shall be removed from the sidewalks adjacent to your property 24 hours after snowfall ends. Failure to do so may result in potential fines being issued. The City also enforces on-street parking infractions during winter snow removal. If your vehicle is parked on the street causing an inference with snow removal, a ticket will be issued along with a tow notice (purple tag). Towing can occur anywhere between 1 to 24 hours after notice has been issued. Your cooperation and assistance during winter snow removal is appreciated.
 Swimming Pool By-law

A by-law that regulates the location of privately owned swimming pools including accessory equipment including the location, fencing/gates, pumps, plumbing, wiring, potable water and permit fees.

Are you looking to install a swimming pool? See our [Pool Guide] for more information.

If you are looking for temporary relief from our Swimming Pool By-law, please see our Request for Relief from Pool By-law Application Form.

 Tree By-law

A by-law that regulates the maintenance, protection, preservation and removal of all City Trees. The by-law also includes information regarding trimming and removing of adjacent trees.

If you wish to have a City tree removed, please complete and submit our Application for Tree Removal.

If you wish to have an adjacent tree designated and removed, please complete and submit our Notice of Designation for removal of Adjacent Tree.

 Zoning
A by-law that divides a municipality into specific areas or zones, defines how land in each zone can be used whether for industrial, commercial, residential or other uses. It describes what times of uses are permitted on the property. For example, the height and size of a building and how far it must be from other buildings and the edge of the property. To determine zoning of your property, contact the Planning and Development Department at (905) 835-2901 ext. 204.