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OMB Approves Illegally Built Addition

November 6th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Adam Vaughan Vows to “Destroy” OMB


The south face of the addition at the rear of 38 Brunswick Ave. The north face is unfinished concrete block. No building permit was obtained and the addition is contrary to City of Toronto by-laws. The city demanded it be demolished and the OMB overruled the demand, no reasons given.

By Milica Markovic

What began as a long-standing legal dispute concerning a local family’s right to keep an illegally built home addition at 38 Brunswick Ave. resulted in an unexpected decision by the OMB to fulfill the Tsengs’ request to ignore the city’s rules and jurisdiction to enforce them.

This isn’t to say that others are not subject to this practice. “A lot of houses don’t conform to today’s bylaws,” says former president of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association Rory (Gus) Sinclair, who adds that “as long as you don’t disturb the footprint of someone else’s house it’s fine, but when you trespass, all laws come in to play.”

This is why the importance of building permits is emphasized. Essentially, “A building permit deals with structure, what you’re allowed to do in your neighbourhood,” explains Sinclair, and applying for a permit means conforming to the zoning bylaws, such as height and length restrictions, green space, and parking space per rental unit, among other particulars.

These aspects apply in any case involving renovation or, for instance, an addition extending into to the backyard, because “the city wants to inspect it to make sure it’s up to scratch,” as Sinclair points out, since neighbouring houses require a fair amount of space for their property as well.

If people have inquiries regarding extensions, the committee of adjustment panel suggests asking neighbours for their opinions. Otherwise, Sinclair warns, “when a notice of a committee of adjustment case reveals out that someone went over [the limit they’re entitled to], people may get upset.”

Any opposition to a building project is taken to the panel where the applicant and the neighbour present arguments as to “whether or not the project is following the rules,” says Sinclair, and with respect to the Tsengs’ incident, their daughter, Pauline, who is the owner of their home, got into trouble for having a slightly longer addition in comparison to what they originally had, going too far into the backyard and leaving unfinished walls on their neighbour’s part of the house.

Despite their job of ensuring that laws are being abided by in municipalities in terms of building projects, the OMB demonstrated inconsistency by finally appealing to the Tsengs after seven years of conflict between them and the panel.

Sinclair states that the fact that the OMB offered the Tsengs the compromise of restarting the legal process with adjustment plays a factor in their reform.

“City lawyers shouldn’t have allowed that and [should’ve instead] said it’s over [in the first place],” he says.

Since the case’s resolution, there are talks of abolishing the OMB, coming from Sinclair himself as well as from city council, in spite of the provincial government’s promise to made amends for its conduct. MPP Rosario Marchese has a private member’s bill weaving its way through legislative committee that would be exclude the City of Toronto from OMB jurisdiction. This legislation if enacted would be welcome news to Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan, who intends to create a city panel that will be responsible for minor variance issues.

“We may not be able to demolish [the Tsengs’] oversized addition, but we certainly can demolish this oversized bureaucracy. It’s time for the OMB to go,” Vaughan concluded.

The Tsengs were unavailable for comment.




Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Milica Markovi? // Nov 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you very much for publishing my story online! The edits are great.