Does 'lawn' have to be real? Shuswap couple find out the hard way | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Does 'lawn' have to be real? Shuswap couple find out the hard way

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A Salmon Arm couple that replaced their lawn with artificial turf has lost a legal case against their strata.

According to a May 4 B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Daryl and Gail Jeannotte believed the fake grass was allowed at their strata complex.

However, after having the artificial lawn professionally installed last summer, the strata told them synthetic turf wasn't allowed in front yards.

The strata council then ordered the Jeannottes to remove the artificial turf and replace it with a lawn.

The strata pointed to its landscaping bylaw to justify its demands.

The bylaw stated that all front yard areas "be landscaped with lawns, shrubs and flower beds. Lawn only is not adequate."

However, the Jeannottes argued the bylaw requiring lawn in front yards didn't specify that the lawn should be made of grass.

The Jeannottes argued the wording in the bylaw didn't define "lawn" so therefore it did not exclude artificial grass.

In deciding the case, the Tribunal looked up two separate dictionary definitions for the word "lawn."

"According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary... 'lawn' is defined as ground that is covered with grass and is kept mowed," the Tribunal ruled.

A second dictionary definition referred to "lawn" as "open, grass-covered land, especially one closely mowed."

READ MORE: Carport or pergola? B.C. couple win legal fight with strata

The Tribunal said it was important that words in bylaws used should be given their plain and ordinary meanings.

"I acknowledge that the bylaw does not specifically exclude artificial turf. However, I find the plain and ordinary meaning of the words used in the bylaw impliedly excludes synthetic materials, such as artificial turf," the Tribunal ruled.

The couple also argued they had a patch of grass in their front yard, as well as the artificial turf, which meant they complied with the landscaping bylaw.

However, again the Tribunal disagreed.

"I find the bylaw impliedly excludes synthetic or artificial lawn, shrubs, and flowers," the decision reads.

The couple also argued the strata hadn't followed the correct procedures in dealing with the artificial lawn and the strata's decision to force them to remove the fake grass was significantly unfair.

However, the Tribunal dismissed both of these complaints.

Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled the couple must remove their artificial lawn within 45 days.

The Tribunal stopped short of telling them what to replace it with but stipulated it had to be within the strata's landscaping bylaw.

READ MORE: Three emotional support cats: Shuswap couple win legal fight with strata

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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