What good are bylaws we can’t enforce?

Finally it’s spring and when you open your windows for fresh air you hear birdsong.

Chances are, though, you also hear the sounds of construction. On practically every street homeowners are adding additions, having renovations done, or increasingly, completely tearing down sturdy, well-built Leaside houses and replacing them with new and bigger homes.

We all support neighbourhood improvement. However, some owners are wanting to build MUCH bigger homes. They apply to the Committee of Adjustment for permission to build homes which are higher or wider (or both) than the other houses on their street, covering more of their lots, cutting off light from neighbouring gardens, decks and windows.

Neighbours who will be negatively affected often approach the Leaside Property Owners’ Association for advice, LPOA examines the applications, sends letters pointing out potential problems or bylaw infractions, and when possible deputes at the committee. 

These meetings, which used to take place in the evening, now take place during office hours, which means that the neighbours will have to lose a day of work to make their cases, It’s not easy.

Committees of Adjustment were established to deal with what are called variances, to apply local bylaws and regulations to new construction, and to tweak those rules in cases where it made sense to do so, Increasingly, however, Committees of Adjustment seem to be going beyond that: to actually making new rules, allowing ever larger, more obtrusive buildings.

What’s more, there are also a few owners or developers whose builders proceed to knock down and build even without a building permit or other appropriate permissions, and who continue to build even after they may have been issued stop work orders,

The situation is not helped by the fact that the city has an insufficient number of building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers. At every opportunity, the LPOA is raising this matter with everyone who may improve the picture, from Toronto’s chief planner to our councillor and community council, What is the point of having bylaws to enforce, if no one is enforcing them?

Toronto’s Official Plan and bylaws are there for a reason, and should be applied. These are important matters which we should all raise with candidates who run in the October municipal election. We are all potentially affected; where do they stand on protecting un-neighbourly development?

About Carol Burtin Fripp 137 Articles
Carol Burtin Fripp is Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, and is Chair of the LRA's Traffic Committee. Over the years, she has served on numerous East York and City task forces. Now a retired television producer (TVO and CBC), she writes Leaside Life's monthly LRA column, and has created a daily international current affairs newsletter read from Newfoundland to New Zealand.