Category Archives: By-laws and building permits

City parking: A primer

January 28, 2011 – 8:51 am

City councillors voted to “clarify” a bylaw that caused a furor over the summer because it appeared to restrict the number of cars that could be parked in a driveway.

“You can park in your driveway,” Toronto chief planner Gary Wright assured residents Thursday, after the planning and growth committee voted to amend what he called a “confusing” part of the city’s new harmonized zoning bylaw. “If you have six guests, and you want to park overnight in a driveway and your driveway is big enough, sure.” The previous city council approved the single city-wide zoning bylaw that sought to harmonize 43 disparate regulations across the city. Mr. Wright said the wording of the section dealing with driveway parking — which, prior to this, was technically not allowed in some parts of the city — limited the number of spots in the driveway to the number of spots in the garage, so that you could park one car in front of a single-car garage, and two in front of a double.

“I think that was too specific an approach on our part. The purpose of the amendment is to say, let’s not talk about one car or two cars. Let’s just say you can park in the driveway,” said Mr. Wright. The bylaw applies to new homes only. Any existing parking spots that were legal before continue to be. City council must sign off on the change before it takes effect.

Posted in: City Hall, Posted Toronto, Traffic & Weather Tags: ,

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Homeowner ordered to stop parking in her own driveway

November 17, 2010

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/892153–homeowner-ordered-to-stop-parking-in-her-own-driveway

Chloé Fedio

{{GA_Article.Images.Alttext$}}Felicia Wang, 25, was surprised to get a notice from the city saying her car could be towed or ticketed for being illegally parked in her own driveway. 

CHLOE REDIO/TORONTO STAR

An East York woman woke up to a yellow notice on her windshield warning that her car could be fined or towed for being illegally parked in her own driveway.

The city notice states, “Park in front of garage door only.”

Have you received a notice about parking in your driveway? Contact us

Felicia Wang has lived at the same house on Parkview Hill Cres. for all her 25 years. She has always parked her silver Honda sedan next to her parents’ vehicle on the family’s double driveway, which extends past the single garage.

The notice that she was in violation of a bylaw came as a surprise.

“We parked three cars there when my brother used to live there. Why now, all of a sudden?” she said.

A new bylaw that restricts parking on residential driveways sparked outrage when it came into effect Oct. 1. While that bylaw is grandfathered and only applies to new developments, Wang was in violation of an old bylaw that requires residents to have a licence for a widened driveway, said Joe Colafranceschi, the supervisor of right-of-way management in the East York area.

About 13,000 homes in Toronto have licences for widened driveways, but Wang’s is not one them.

“They are parking illegally,” Colafranceschi said. “We may have received a complaint.”

Residents who want to park in a widened driveway must apply for a licence and pay the annual $200 fee, but Colafranceschi said the city has tightened restrictions on residential parking. Even if Wang applied for a licence, she would be refused because licences are no longer issued for Ward 31, where she lives.

“There are many wards in the city where it’s just not permitted anymore,” he said. “We cannot accept applications for front-yard parking any more in Ward 31. It doesn’t matter if parking was pre-existing or not.”

However, Wang said two cars fit comfortably side by side in the driveway. The idea that the familiar paved space on her parents’ property is illegal and should just exist as “dead space” is ludicrous, she added.

“I learned how to ride my bike on that driveway,” she said. “It’s never been an issue.”

She added that property owners should not be expected to be experts on bylaws — especially those that are rarely enforced.

“There’s an old bylaw and now there’s a new bylaw. People are going to get confused,” Wang said. “I guess to some people it can be an eyesore, especially if people park on lawns — but we don’t. We take care of our area so I don’t see why we should be ticketed.”

Homeowners aren’t the only ones confused. Some city councillors admitted they weren’t aware that they voted in favour of limiting the number of vehicles that can be parked on a residential driveway because the new bylaw was buried in nearly 5,000 pages of regulations and maps that make up the city’s harmonized zoning document. Since amalgamation in 1998, city officials have been standardizing bylaws, melding the bylaws of the six former cities that now make up Toronto.

Under the new bylaw, residents with a single-car garage can park one vehicle on the driveway while those with a double-car garage can park two.

The restrictions are meant to reduce clutter in residential neighbourhoods, but city officials have said bylaw officers won’t actively seek out offenders.

Refusal to comply could mean a trip to court and a fine of up to $5,000.

How exactly grandfathering of the new bylaw works is a question at least one city councillor is asking.

“It’s one of the things that we’ve got to get clarity on in the new term,” said Janet Davis, Ward 31 councillor. “I think it needs to be looked at and I know that there are several councillors who expressed that feeling as well.”

‘All I wanted to do is build a house’

Inspectors have hauled Craig Morrison, 91, into court six times over his hand-built home. | Kâté Braydon/Telegraph-Journal

Neil Reynolds

From Monday’s Globe and Mail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/all-i-wanted-to-do-is-build-a-house/article1797192/

It was the fifth house that Craig Morrison built with his own hands, and the last. He had built things with his own hands for 70 years, often using lumber he produced at his own small sawmill. Now he would build a modest, single-storey house where he could look after his wife, Irene, suffering from Alzheimer’s. He would do the work himself, of course. Didn’t everyone in New Brunswick? “I’m not flush with money,” he explains now. “I didn’t want to go into debt.”

Thus it was that Mr. Morrison broke ground three years ago – at 88 – for a bungalow on land overlooking the Bay of Fundy near St. Martins, a seaside village east of Saint John. And thus it was that Mr. Morrison got into trouble with the law for the first time in his life.In the past two years, building inspectors have hauled Mr. Morrison into court six times, each appearance more harrowing than the last. A couple of weeks ago, the provincial agency that employs building inspectors demanded that the court forcibly remove Craig and Irene Morrison from their home, that the house be bulldozed, and that Mr. Morrison be found in contempt of court – meaning, almost certainly, imprisonment.

Mr. Morrison worked long hours into his 92nd year, fixing the inspectors’ long lists of defects. But for the court, he made his position clear: He would not vacate the house. If the court found him in contempt, he would go to jail.

In a memorable account of these proceedings, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal writer Marty Klinkenberg reported Mr. Morrison’s lament: “I thought this was a free country, that we had liberties and freedoms like we used to have, but I was sadly mistaken. … All I wanted to do is build a house, and I was treated as if I was some kind of outlaw.”

Building inspector Wayne Mercer found many things wrong with Mr. Morrison’s house – although it wasn’t obvious that the building-code infractions he cited made it particularly unsafe. He noticed that Mr. Morrison’s lumber – custom-sawn – did not carry the requisite stickers. The windows did not carry the requisite stickers, either. The roof trusses and floor joists, he thought, were questionable. He wanted the ceilings torn out, drywall removed and wall studs replaced.

“[The inspectors] seemed to find fault with everything I did,” Mr. Morrison said. “They were out to get me because I was doing it with my own land and my own lumber and my own trusses and floor joists in my own time.”

At one point, a professional home builder, Raymond Debly, volunteered to do an independent inspection. He determined that the house exceeded the requirements of the National Building Code. It was “built like a fort.” The lumber, old-growth spruce, was superior to any lumber on the market. (“Some stamped lumber,” he said, “shouldn’t be used to build a doghouse.”) The floors were double strength. (“You could walk an elephant across them.”) And the trusses were fine. (“They were built the old-fashioned way,” said Mr. Debly, himself 80, “the way we did it in the ’60s.”)

Mr. Morrison’s long struggle with an implacable bureaucracy came to a merciful end in a Saint John courtroom on Nov. 1 when Mr. Justice Hugh McLellan ordered the planning commission to negotiate a settlement with Mr. Morrison, saying, “I’m not going to order a 91-year-old man to jail and have his wife placed in a nursing home.” The planning commission subsequently agreed to allow the Morrisons to live in their home, without further molestation, until they die.

Son of a lumberman and cattle rancher, Craig Morrison comes from self-sufficient stock, the sturdy people who built this country with their own hands. He raised seven children (and has 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren). Yet, government inspectors almost took him down.

This is a true Canadian story, a cautionary tale of the tremendous power of the state over the individual in an age of pervasive bureaucracy. It is, indeed, a profound parable of irretrievably lost independence and casually forgotten freedoms.

Business, Toronto and Business in Toronto

As a candidate in Toronto Ward 29, I am often asked:

“As Councillor in Toronto Ward 29, what would you do to help business?”

The short answer is:

I would go to City Hall with an attitude that “Business Matters” and that it should be a full partner  in making decisions that affect the community.

In the long run, most things  that help  business will help the community and most  things that hurt business will hurt the community. Note, that I said “In the long  run”. As a general principle, as City Councillor I would consider how city initiatives (or lack thereof) would  help or hurt  the delicate relationship  between between business and the community. Continue reading