Originally, this article was published on March 20, 2013. Four years ago!! Nothing has changed. This is a very sad case of the City of Toronto Building Department abdicating its responsibilities to the neighbours. It has cost thousands to fight the City's fight. This is not to be taken lightly by any homeowner as it can happen to you tomorrow.
Hey, John Tory, the City needs to step up to compensate the neighbours!
In March 2013, there was a meeting at City Hall between the neighbors surrounding 2 St. James Court, just north of Wellesley Street East at Wellesley Avenue and the owners of the property, Mr. and Mrs. "Nasty" Norm Rogers (not my name for him but from others with past dealings, where he has enjoyed making other neighbors lives hell...Google his name). A notice was sent out by a Land Use Consultant hired by Mr. Rogers and encouraged (supposedly) by Buildings and Heritage however neither they nor the city councillors were in attendance.
Over 12 years ago the Rogers bought a small one bedroom coach house on a very small lot in a back alley that was protected under the Heritage designation that is in the area. When they could not get the approvals that they needed to build a large two bedroom plus home with a garage, they allowed the existing home to fall to pieces so that the project was no longer Heritage but would now be considered to be "New Construction".
The Rogers started to build a structure made of concrete and rebar with a concrete and rebar "fence" and a concrete and rebar Garden Shed at the rear. After 8 years of intimidating the neighbours (last spring they brought in a gang of pot-smoking Bikers to work construction on the site), they were closed down by the City Building Department when it was found that they had again overstepped what was allowed. Suggestions have been made that the Survey was altered...
The Land Use Consultant had probably drunk the Kool-Aid provided for her by the Rogers and at times seemed shocked by what she learned from the neighbours and Mr. Rogers when questioned. It turns out that Mr. Rogers felt that it was necessary to build a foundation that went under the house to a depth of 8 feet and then filled it in with dirt even though it has (as one neighbour noted) walls, doors and electric plugs in the walls.
It was also very easily noted from the plans that the "garage" that was part of the house, could easily be altered to be included in the gross floor area.
The Rogers, at last, threatened the group that because this was now considered by the City to be "New Construction" if the neighbours did not approve a two-storey addition over the parking garage, that a third Storey would then be built at the front of the house. Please note that although many options were laid out to the Land Use Consultant by the neighbours, they were refused by Mr. Rogers who insisted on having two large bedrooms and a built-in garage. Please note that in the area only 10 per cent of the houses have a garage and maybe another 50-60 per cent actually have parking.
SO WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
No solutions were achieved. The City has not done its job and protected the surrounding owners from someone who has made their lives miserable for over a decade. The neighbours have lost privacy, spent thousands on repairs caused by shoddy workmanship, and have lost the value inherent in their properties....because the City is intimidated by a Bully.
For everybody who is adjoining that property, their property values went down by about 10 per cent due to this.
Every citizen should be concerned that the City of Toronto has done little to protect tax paying citizens. The City is abrogating responsibility. It has and will continue to cost these neighbours thousands of dollars as well the peace and quiet that they deserve. They should not have to fight this fight! Is the neighbours' only option to sue the City for not protecting their properties?
Here we are 12 years later and this story is still without a happy ending. It's been covered on the front page of The Toronto Star and the CBC News has written about it as well. It's time for the City to step up and do something to protect the tax paying citizens.
Title Photo by Bernard Weil, The Toronto Star