Riverview council is looking to put some teeth into the town's response to complaints about tall grass.

This week, council gave first reading to a bylaw addition that would require residents to keep their grass under 20 centimetres. 

'This isn't something where you're going to see officers out measuring grass and proactively looking for an offender.' - Meghan Walsh, Town of Riverview spokesperson

If the problem persists, a property owner could be fined between $50 and $1,070. 

Every summer, the town receives many complaints about tall grass, but it hasn't been able to intervene, the town's spokesperson, Meghan Walsh, said Wednesday.

Spurred by complaint

Earlier this summer, resident Kevin O'Brien complained about the length of grass in his neighbour's backyard.   

Walsh said the grass limit, proposed as an addition to the Traffic, Parking and the Use of Streets Bylaw, is similar to regulations across the country.

"We didn't have any authority to do this before, so when complaints were received the most that we could do was send a friendly letter to the resident and let them know that their neighbours had issued a complaint," she said.

Riverview, tall grass, council

Vacant lots are exempt from the proposed bylaw change. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

She added the letters are usually enough to get a lawn mowed.

"This just gives us that extra level of enforcement to be able to go in and ensure that the property is being well kept," she said.

Enforcement of the bylaw would only follow a complaint, she said.

"This isn't something where you're going to see officers out measuring grass and proactively looking for an offender," said Walsh. 

"This is really just to address the issue that we see occur every summer with problems related to tall grass and concerns that the neighbours have."

Similar bylaw in other communities

Riverview resident Nancy Fowler likes the proposed bylaw.

"I think that's a great idea," she said. "It helps the community. It helps the neighbourhood look great,

"Yeah, I think everybody should be able to keep their yards looking well through the summer."

Shelley Leiner (left) and Nancy Fowler (right), Riverview

Resident Nancy Fowler (right) likes the proposed bylaw. But Shelley Leiner, who also lives in Riverview, thought she might be in trouble if the bylaw goes ahead. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Shelley Leiner, who also lives in Riverview, thought she might be in trouble if the bylaw goes ahead.

"I might be one of the people that maybe don't mow their back fenced-in yard, but the front looks nice," Leiner said.

"But no, I think it's a good idea, because I live over where there are semis, and it sure makes a difference when your neighbour isn't keeping up."

'It helps the community. It helps the neighbourhood look great.' - Nancy Fowler, Riverview resident

Different communities have different bylaws. Dieppe curbs grass length at 20 centimetres, and so does Toronto. Fredericton and Moncton have no height restrictions.

"If we do get complaints, and depending on the situation, some instances may fall under the Unsightly Premises Bylaw." said City of Moncton spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc. "Our legal and bylaw departments are looking at what might be possible under the new Local Governance Act."

The Riverview bylaw could get final reading on Sept. 11, but even then, Walsh doesn't expect residents will see much difference in town streets.

"I think it will probably open residents' eyes to the issue, but we only receive on average about 15 complaints a year so we're working with a very small number to begin with," she said.