They say it shouldn’t have been built in the first place and now, as construction nears completion on a mansion in Lawrence Park, several neighbours are calling for a last-ditch stop work order.
The demand to halt driveway construction for 209 Dawlish Ave. was raised at a meeting organized by councillor Cliff Jenkins on March 29 that attempted to answer several questions that remain about the development.
Construction on the unoccupied mansion — worth an estimated $4.3 million — began in 2006, much to the dismay of neighbours who say the city allowed the home to be constructed in a ravine despite bylaws they believe should have protected the small wooded area from residential development.
“Mayor Miller has said that canals are to Venice as ravines are to Toronto,” said an exasperated Anne McNeilly, a resident of the street.
Staff members from planning, building and transportation departments were at the meeting, but questions regarding apparent disregard for an agreement protecting the property from development, were mostly left unanswered.
The most glaring shortage of knowledge about the house at the meeting came when McNeilly pointed to the 1986 easement agreement, that she said neighbours paid $1,700 at the time to put in place.
According to McNeilly, the agreement forbids infilling, building or landscaping in the ravine and also prevents the dead end on Dawlish from being opened for a road or driveway.
Back in 2006 the Ontario Municipal Board approved the development, which included the construction of both 209 and 207 Dawlish Ave.
“I’d be very surprised if the OMB knew about that,” said Jenkins, referring to the easement agreement.
“Who’s responsible for easements?” he asked, prompting a staffer to reply, “I don’t know.”
Following the frustrated reaction from the two-dozen residents gathered in the room, Jenkins suggested organizing another meeting that would include city lawyers.
“Whatever the city is doing that allows these bylaws to be corrupted needs to be addressed,” said McNeilly.
City planner Francis Kodjo Kwashie provided the only solid answer of the evening, explaining that changing plans after the OMB has approved them is typical, and that the changes that have been made to this point on Dawlish are in full accordance with his
As Jenkins offered promises of answers for a meeting tentatively set for late April, some residents meanwhile called for a stop work order that would halt efforts on the driveway, currently under construction. Its construction has required tonnes of fill to be dumped into the ravine to connect the house to the road.
But the answer from city staff came as a resounding “No.”
“We’ve been on this pretty carefully,” said one city staff member.
“They’re proceeding in accordance with our approvals.”
The next meeting will be held at 12:30 on April 26 at the North York Civic Centre.
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