Engines to hush at garage

Go-ahead given in error, city admits

A floral shop-turned-service garage in Armour Heights will have to close its doors after the city mistakenly issued the owner a business licence.

The Brooke Avenue garage, which does minor repair work and oil changes, opened for business July 5. It’s tucked behind stores on Avenue Road and is the length of the backyard of the house right next to it.

A flower shop moved out of the space a year ago.

Garage owner Lisa Watson and her family operated another garage in the area for many years. She applied for a license for the Brooke Avenue site in December.

Watson went through the proper channels with the city’s building, legal, planning and licensing departments for approval of the service garage. All gave the owner the go-ahead to proceed, said local councillor Karen Stintz at a June 30 public meeting addressing the issue.

But when Watson began doing some interior renovations — for which a building permit was not needed — it caught the attention of nearby residents, who raised concerns about safety, the environment and parking.

Four days before the garage opened for business, information surfaced that a bylaw came into effect in January that forbids service stations at the location.

So, Watson has been informed that the use is no longer permitted, Stintz said at the meeting.

The city is looking to remedy the situation for the garage owner, Stintz added.

“The city has acknowledged its errors and emissions and gross negligence in this matter and is prepared to make settlement with the applicant to make sure that she’s made whole and her damages have been taken care of,” Stintz said at the meeting.

The licence expires in March and it is unclear how long the garage will continue operating.

Though the garage doesn’t do any major vehicular repair work, the nature of the business and its proximity to residential homes raised concerns among neighbours over the potential for environmentally hazardous incidents, like chemical spills.

But Stintz said the risk is minimal. A local resident at the meeting also defended the garage and its owner.

“It’s not something that the neighbours need to see as a significant threat,” he said. “There is a proven record of over 40 years that these people know what they’re doing.”

At the meeting, Stintz admitted the city made an error.

“This is highlighting the bureaucratic challenges that we face as a city,” she said. “While we were conducting every stage of due diligence on this property, a key piece of information was not made available.”

About this article:

By: Alina Smirnova
Posted: Jul 13 2010 12:57 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto