Downtown Bureau

Hamilton's Newest Parking Lot: 55 Queen Street North

The property at 55 Queen Street North (at Market Street) is being developed into yet another downtown parking lot.

By Joey Coleman
Published March 27, 2012

The City of Hamilton is powerless to stop construction of the city's newest "legal non-conforming" parking lot despite issuing an order on March 16, 2012 to the owner to stop construction at 55 Queen Street North (at Market Street).

Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie expressed frustration that the property, which shares the same mailing address as Vranich Development Corp, is being developed into another parking lot.

McHattie notes "a parking lot on that site is a legal non-conforming use (ie. allowed)" and that his is trying to prevent the construction of the lot, but notes he will likely be unsuccessful.

Work on the site was continuing Saturday morning (when this reporter was last near the site) and the order to comply was clearly visible as construction vehicles entered the site.

The order as provided by the City:

Order Number: 12-104923-00 EN
Date Order Issued: March 16, 2012
Address to which Order applies:
55 QUEEN ST. N HAMILTON

Order issued to:
Hamilton Queen & Market Inc
1100 BURLOAK DR. Suite 105
BURLINGTON ON L7L 6B2

The inspection on or about March 14, 2012 at the above-referenced address found the following contravention(s) of the By-law as noted below.

You are hereby ordered to correct the contraventions itemized below by April 8, 2012.

Item Reference Description and location Required action and compliance date
1. The City of Hamilton By-Law 03-126, as amended, Section 3(1) Fill has been dumped or placed on the above described lands without having first obtained a Site Alteration Permit issued by the Director Obtain a Site Alteration Permit or restore all site grades to original condition.

Order issued by: registered mail

Name:

BCIN: 15083

Signature: ___

Telephone No.: 905.546.2424 ext. 1368

Note

  • Every person who contravenes any provision of the Site Alteration By-law is guilty of an offence and upon conviction is liable to the penalties specified by Section 61 of the Provincial Offences Act.

  • Where the owner fails to comply, the Director may at the owner's expense cause emergency repairs or clean up, carry out or arrange for necessary repair or maintenance immediately.

  • The City of Hamilton may recover the expenses incurred in doing the work by adding such expenses, including interest to the real property tax roll for property held by the owner, to be collected in like manner as municipal taxes.

This was first published on Joey Coleman's personal website.

Joey Coleman covers Hamilton Civic Affairs.

Read more of his work at The Public Record, or follow him on Twitter @JoeyColeman.

33 Comments

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 10:27:39

It's funny to see the praise Vrancor gets, even though they pull things like this...

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:02:23

Dorry worry, a lot of us know the Vranich clan for what it is.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:11:06

Wasn't this site supposed to be a hotel at one point?

If so, that speaks volumes about our tourism draw.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2012 at 11:11:56 in reply to Comment 75459

I think the hotel plan was related to the possibility of a new stadium on the west side of town.

I'm going to assume (and hope) this is a temporary parking lot to kill time until the MIP is finished up and the Frid Street extension is completed.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2012 at 11:17:20 in reply to Comment 75512

I'm not sure how MIP factors into their strategy. Back in August 2010, Vrancor said a West Harbour Pan Am stadium would clinch their plans to go ahead with the development:

Developer Darko Vranich has been quietly assembling entire blocks of downtown property for the last decade, drawing up plans for a complex of four buildings roughly along George Street designed to link Jackson Square with Hess Village.

A spokesperson for his company, Vrancor Group, said yesterday the west harbour stadium location would give the city core the momentum needed to get shovels in the ground on that project.

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By totally awesome (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2012 at 21:11:45 in reply to Comment 75513

I always had my doubts about the west harbour site for a stadium. Now that I see Vranich was for it I am totally opposed.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 15:54:52 in reply to Comment 75459

don't know ... maybe the city wouldn't approve the hotel because of the lack of parking....

New hamilton Moto ... Parking before employment....

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By Gullah Guffaw (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 22:33:36 in reply to Comment 75472

"Hamilton: Our Motto Is Moto"

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By Runner (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 14:18:07 in reply to Comment 75459

A lot of Burlington hotels and restaurants were packed with Around the Bay Race participants last weekend.

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By How!?! (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:13:46

What makes this parking lot legal non-conforming? I was under the imperssion that this status was for existing uses that are no longer permitted under current by-laws. So how can a site that was not previously a parking lot be turned into one and still be legal non-conforming???

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By marcus (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 23:06:14 in reply to Comment 75460

there has been some parking at the south end of the lot for some time. The first question is whether that parking predated the parking lot ban which I believe started with the new zoning by-law in 2005. If so, there's an issue of whether it would be legal for that to be extended to the whole lot.

The city's own zoning brochure says: 'In order to expand or alter a legally established non-conforming use or a building in a particular zone, a successful application to the Committee of Adjustment is required'

Also the Planning Act s34(10) says that cities may pass by-laws permitting the extension or alteration of non-conforming uses.

From 'Legal Non-Conforming Uses Under the Planning Act':

Where no language has been included in the zoning by-law to permit an extension of a non-conforming use, such an extension will not be legal. The Court in Re Sault Dock Co. Ltd. explained that:
“The council of the municipality may …amend such a by-law to permit such "extension or enlargement". In the absence of such an amendment, the provisions of the by-law are operative and effective, with only the exceptions mentioned, and it does not in such circumstances lie within the power of council to permit such work.”
http://www.woodbull.ca/pub/WhatsNewConference/PDF%20-%20Legal%20Non-conforming%20Uses%20Under%20the%20Planning%20Act.pdf

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By Pedro (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:14:16

The soil used to make this parking lot was pulled from the Federal Building excavation at Main and Bay. It's loosely packed and on a windy day blows all over the neighbourhood. I'm guessing Vranich doesn't care about that either.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2012 at 12:06:38

We were willing to live in trees to save a valley. Maybe there are no trees to tumble or creatures to displace, but to what lengths are we willing to go to fight against these people and corporations who really have no desire to work with our city and we the people, to understand our needs and our goals and our dreams for a Hamilton we can be proud to hail and feel safe to walk through ourselves.

We could baracade the entranceways or surround the perimeters of the land with cameras capturing both snapshots and film of this blatant disgregard for what we are trying to do as a city. Make the workers feel uncomfortable and create quite a scene. Maybe force them to not want to work until the camera's go away.

I am not sure I like these kinds of extreme measures but how do we fight this?

We have talked so much about bullying as of late but there is a form of bullying we haven't addressed. We are being bullied by business whether it be individuals with too much money to excersise their need for power or faceless large box corprations. I am almost willing to bet 90% of our leaders have no desire to have these big American conglomerates puke their heartless corporate boxes all over our beautiful landscape but we don't really have a lot of say in so many of the ideals we truly believe in. We need these corporations. We have no power over who buys 'our' land but we do need to always remember, that it is our land. Every single inch of Hamilton-Wentworth is ours.

I believe we have more say and power than we truly realize. Maybe we need our own Rudy Baylor? Maybe I watch too many movies.

We need to work towards finding a way to not need large corporations or to allow ourselves to feel this powerlessness.

Perhaps these land owners realize (I am sure some of them dont' conform in spite because bottom line, they hate or have no regard for the success of Hamilton), that until they can build what they want, parking is always a profiting business or at least better than no income or right offs or lower taxes while these lands they are swallowing up just because maybe from the onset, have risen in value or finally approved through more bullying, for whatever their ultimate goal for these properties are.

All these owners have to do is pave these parcels of land half-heartedly and put up a box for someone to sit in. They don't care what it looks like. They doen't care about strategic placement of parking to suit our real needs, so maybe we need to create an evnironment that relies less and less on parking. Find a way to make parking lots an un-needed entity downtown or maybe we rip out all parking metres and build our own free parking lots and encourage people to use city lots that are free.

I don't know this individual personally. I only know what I have read and I have judged him and those like him harshly for how I percieve they are damaging my city (and maybe rightfully so), but perahsp we shouldn't feed back into their negative ways in our fight for what we believe is best for our city. Some people we may never change, but we can change the way we respond or fight back. We teach childen to not punch back when struck - to use compassionate and mature voices to fight back. Maybe it's time for us all to listen to our own adivce and teachings. Me included.

We shouldn't have to waste our valuable time and negative energy fighting or getting angry over these things we have little control over. Instead, how do we use the enormous amount of creativity that this city breaths, to fight this productively? What about a documentary on our local HBS network? Get The Spec and CH to show it as well. Talk about why people shouldn't support thsee parking lots. What it truly means to support them.

"Do 'you' want to see your city thrive? Do you want to feel safe downtown? Do you want to walk along and see endless parking lots? This is why we are almost powerless 'legally' against these developments. These are some of the ways you can help us fight back against this."

We need to all scream out loud at once whether on Facebook or Twitter or wherever, and say I have F'ing had enough of this sh!t. I am not going to be bullied any longer.

Pssst ... I also think we are being bullied with regards to 100 Main. I still believe in my heart that that building shouldn't come down. I think that existing HBS production by MJ should be televised on CH, C14, and again in The Spec. Maybe it won't change the standing decision this late in the game, but it can be how we moving forward, ensure that every citizen in this city knows everything they need to know and why so many believe we should be fighting to save things like the Board of Ed building.

I miss that fight that was Red Hill. How do we switch that raw energy that was that battle, and use what we learned from that experience to start winning some fo the battles we need to start winning (not that we didn't need with everything I hold dear, to win that fight), to truly turn this f'ing awesome city around.

Everyone catch this Letter to the Editor:

A love letter to Hamilton

Dear Hamilton:

It’s not polite to be sincere, but I have to tell you: I have loved you from the moment I met you in 2002. I’d never met another city before, having only been with a rural town, and you showed me such a good time.

I’ve loved you for the HSR drivers who get me safely home, the farmers’ market vendors who pack me extra cheese, the Westtown waitress who knows my breakfast order before I ask. For the waterfront trail, the Rail Trail, waterfalls, Cootes and the Dundurn steps. For Bryan Prince, Goodness Me, My Dog Joe, Locke Street Bagel, the Winking Judge and the Bean/Bread Bar.

I’ve loved you for the AGH, James North, the Department of English at McMaster and the Ryerson Rec Centre water-fit class. And for Jackson Square Cinemas, the Dundas Cactus Festival and Gage Park.

I’ve loved you for your collection of neighbourhoods that breathe, grow, pulse.

I am a privileged woman and you are not a perfect city. Still, I have loved you.

I’m leaving you, Hamilton. It’s not you; it’s me. I have to go away, but I wanted to thank you for being the city that I learned so much from, for being the city I will miss so much.

Erin Aspenlieder, now of Vancouver

If you don't follow every #hamont tweeter, search this hashtag and start. Read every single one of their bios. You'll see for yourself, just how much people both lifers and newbs, love and believe in this city.

As the flames across our bayfront slowly blow out, it's time to turn up the flame on a love affair that has existed in a closet for far too long. There is a lot of love and passion in this city and there has been for many generations. It simply wasn't as easy back then, for all of us to truly realize what truly existed in the silenced hearts of this hard working city.

I am angry at this in part, but also sad and emotional because I just got news that my uncle passed away this morning. My family is close and we have close and deep ties to this city as well. I also know these close family bonds exist all over this city. I know our family is not unique. I know this deep love and connection is not of it's own kind amongst the varying little crevice of this country surrounded metropolis.

This powerful bond I feel towards my family, is what I feel for our city.

I am tired of seeing all of our friends and family struggle. We all deserve better from all of our leaders from politicians to the business community. It's time for you to bring out the best in us so that we can know better how we can help you help this city reach it's full potential.

I am tired of us being bullied.

F you non-conforming business or indivduals as a whole with negative motives. You either want to be a part of helping us grow or realize our true worth, or you need to be brought down to size. The world is getting angrier. Hamiltonians alone, are getting angrier. This site is the best example of that frustration and also evidence of what real people like you and me, are doing more and more to fight against this powerlessness we have all felt for far too long.

The only thing that matters in life, are the things that live and how everything in our day connects us to or helps us live the life every single living thing on this earth, deserves to live.

This may on the 'surface' be about a parking lot, but in the end it all comes full circle to not being able to get along in the backyard sandbox - how to effectively communicate with one another.

It's time to say F' you and then take a deep breath and with a clear head, figure out as a 500,000+ person collective, how we build the city we want. Not the one corporations are planning for us.

It's also time to shut up about Bratina and Peggy. It's time to stop judging. It's time to stop worrying about feeling we deserve some kind of appology or whatever it is we feel we deserve. This has all gone too far and is taking us a huge step back from the direction many of us have felt this city pulling towards.

We can blame the Mayor or council or Vranich or Walmart or the boogyman, but nobody owes us anything. We are all at fault for our existing realities. Let's put down the swords and start being productive in our conversations instead of destructive.

Whether we chose to believe it or care about it or not, our Mayor, Peggy, council, you and I, have families. We have feelings and to feel that we have some right to bring others down or judge others for actions we don't believe in, makes us no better.

Who are you or I to judge?

I know I have come full circle here from hatred and frustration to all of us holding hands and singing Kumbaya. I could go back and edit but I think I did enough by removing names and specifically directing this at any one person or corporation. Maybe I'll go back and remove one company I have been targeting and start breathing some of the love I am preaching here too. Maybe I too should stop blaming others, and just start doing my little part every day, to change the world in the ways I feel could bring more hapiness, emotional and fiscal prosperity, to all of us.

I challenge all of us, RTH, The Spec, CH, whoever, to stop this council scandal. It's time to stop selling papers and start selling the value in stories that reach positively into our core.

We as a society thrive on negativity and scandal. We think that we have this human right to put down and judge others either in article, interview, or commenting space forms. Can we change that? Can we sell papers and intrigue people by talking about greener grass? Can we change that risen hammer, with compassionate voices or creative pens?

I started off pissed off at one person and now I suddenly find myself thinking about a book I am reading about The Power of Conversation and I wonder, what has happend along the way to make land owners not care about bi-laws or the vision of our leaders? If they won't listen to power, will they listen to people? People who aren't judging them but merely using compasion to plead to them to help us build a stronger, healthier, happier community for our children and grandchildren to grow up in.

That is what we all want weather we have children of our own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, our freinds have kids, we volunteer with kids, or in whatever ways we are connected to children. That is our one common desire. How do we as fellow human beings, help the people holding so much of the power, see the true bottom line in everything from a parking lot, to a skyscraper to tearing down a forest. How does it all come full circle to the children of our communities?

Comment edited by lawrence on 2012-03-27 13:56:51

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By totally awesome (anonymous) | Posted March 29, 2012 at 21:17:30 in reply to Comment 75462

so you lived in trees to fight the RHE, what did that get you? Still haven't learnt your lesson have you. Still intent on your silliness and costing the city valuable time, money and resources for nothing but your own ego.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 14:36:25

So, quite apart from it's use as a parking lot, it seems that they're in violation of the Site Alteration Bylaw.

The sign states that violation of that bylaw is an offence under the Provincial Offences Act.

So even if we can't get the parking lot removed, should we expect to see charges laid under the Provincial Offences Act?

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By wherespec? (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 18:39:49

Spec gonna report this ever too? today on Spec site, shown as late Tues afternoon, spec posted an article that Stoney creek news--Leitner, published last Thursday--Environment ministry scraps Taro inspector.
RTH readers should look at those other papers, & they wont have to look at dreshel there, & RTH got dreshel/spec defenders, as we all know.

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By neighbour? (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 20:40:19

This parking lot backs against my property on Ray St. N. Its not only 55 Queen St. N. Vranich is setting his half ass parking lot but also across the street using the space at old Special needs services building at 356 King St. W. which is also besides the you guessed it 'Vrancor Hospitality Building'. I guess this man wont stop until he turns our entire city to a massive parking lot! I am so disgusted i want to vomit right now! What happened to Hotel plan for this space? The land grade looks like crap now with all that dirt from the federal building he used to fill it up. Who is going to pay for the cleaning bill of all that dust and dirt that flew over on to my property? I thought so...GREED he rushed to get this done so he could charge and make $ from the around the bay race last sunday. I cant believe that people with BMW, porche and mercedes actually parked on top of that dirt. You should have seen all those dirty cars. Also I can see part of that new grade collapse and cause a avalanche taking all the cars down with it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 22:18:36

I'm guessing he wants to use this parking for Hess Village now that they are developing in the Village. Blowing dirt will be the least of your concerns at 3:00am every Friday/Saturday night.

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By Gullah Guffaw (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2012 at 22:30:35

Pay attention to the rental signs popping up in the west end of Jackson Square. Could it be that we're looking at the middle man in the "swing space" equation?

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By James (registered) | Posted March 29, 2012 at 22:43:04 in reply to Comment 75487

I have been watching this with increasing disquiet. Why are there so many Vrancor-owned properties in the part of Jackson Square under the Sheraton?

If actual businesses go in there then I'm all for it, but I can't help but think that that bastard is up to something.

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By ORiTvOnline (registered) - website | Posted March 27, 2012 at 22:39:58

JASON: The problem at 3am every friday saturday night already exists. Where do you think everyone from Hess parks? They all park on Ray St. N. & Market (For free) far enough from the cops seeing them returning to their cars drunk. And so that they can yell, scream and fight on Ray St. away from the cops eyes.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 28, 2012 at 07:13:37 in reply to Comment 75489

I used to live at Market/Hess. Sure, there's a ton of parking on the streets on Friday/Saturday nights, but very rarely were we woken up by noise or unable to sleep due to it. I get that now at my present place on Friday/Saturday more near St. Joe's due to the ambulances and fire trucks that run their sirens at all hours of the night, regardless of traffic, not to mention all the drunks stumbling home from the Augusta pubs. Please don't derail this discussion about parking into noise from an entertainment district.

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By ORiTvOnline (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2012 at 08:13:32 in reply to Comment 75495

DowntownInHamilton I wasnt talking about Market and Hess but Market and Ray. Further away from Hess were the police do not patrol. Come and sit on my front steps on Friday and Saturday night and watch all the drunk people from Hess get in their cars! And I am not derailing the discussion about parking into noise Jason made a comment about it so I replied.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted March 28, 2012 at 09:21:34

I think maybe valet parking for the hotel(s)

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 28, 2012 at 09:36:14 in reply to Comment 75503

Lol...yep, because everyone loves to pay for valet parking so their car can return covered in dirt.

The Hess parking sidenotes are absolutely relevant to this discussion. Here is a prime residential building site in a residential neighbourhood that will now have hundreds of new cars coming and going. The street parking on Ray, Market etc....will still be there.
Someone who lives next to this lot should absolutely be concerned about the goings-on in the middle of the night on weekends if this lot is allowed to materialize. A parking garage facility along George between Hess and Bay would be much more appropriate IMO, and useful all week long, day and night.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-03-28 09:36:57

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2012 at 16:56:36

Why is Hess Village relevant to this? Who do you think owns most of those bars?

I just saw this parking lot today, with the Impark sign and pay stations ready to be unwrapped...shameful and disgusting.

The great Hamilton monopoly game continues...

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By ORITVONLINE (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2012 at 22:29:06 in reply to Comment 75525

Hess Village is relevant because it brings in the majority of the cars on the weekend.

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By ORiTvOnline (registered) - website | Posted March 29, 2012 at 06:39:11

Watch this video regarding this site http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM_81KL_D...

Comment edited by ORiTvOnline on 2012-03-29 06:40:12

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By Pearl Street (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2012 at 19:14:56

Cut the man some slack, he is an incredibly driven individual who I'm sure is fed up with Hamilton's snail speed processes. Most negative commentary seems to be made by people unfamiliar with business and city processes. The nieghbour is upset about dust on his property, but I am also a nieghbour and I am glad to see progress. Lets not forget what that property has been forever; a dirt pit filled with loose fill and garbage! Don't be afraid of change - this is GOOD!

I have no affiliation with him, nor have I met him, but I see his outstanding results. Results you don't often see especially in Hamilton. Change may be uncomfortable, but its good!

Vranich I'm sure seeing larger things in this downtown 55 Queen St space than a parking lot. I am sure it is a smart business move to aid finances of owning a useless dirt pit and to later develop. Not everythign can happen at once though...

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By Oobie Doobie (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2012 at 11:33:11

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/698345--more-illegal-dumping-at-vranich-site

More illegal dumping at Vranich site
Kaz Novak/The Hamilton...DUMPING

Fill dumped a site on Queen Streen North is spread by bulldozer.12
There’s been more illegal dumping at Darko Vranich’s Queen St. N property.

Vrancor Group, owned by Hamilton developer Darko Vranich, is coming under fire for dumping construction fill onto a Queen Street North property without the city's permission. City staff say the amount of debris dumped on the site requires a permit and say they asked twice for the company to complete the paperwork without receiving a response.

Vrancor spokesperson Tyler McDiarmid told the Spec last week that the company applied for the paperwork during the second last week of March, but couldn't specify the specific day.

However, Councillor Brian McHattie says Vrancor officials only applied for the permit last Friday, March 30. McHattie says more fill was illegally dumped on the property overnight.

No one from Vrancor was available to comment.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 03, 2012 at 12:31:36 in reply to Comment 75657

I imagine the city will promptly give Mr. Vranich a at least four more warnings within this year and then punish him with a sternly-worded letter. If they get really pissed, they'll get hard core and levy a hefty fine. I'm serious, it could go as high as three figures!

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2012 at 15:07:04

"So he owns the mud, he owns the land, he owns the machines and he pays the people (and the parking lot is legal according to the previous report)...

So maybe he is a true dissident?

Or maybe it's time to look at city-building as an open-source activity...?

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted April 03, 2012 at 15:07:31

So he owns the mud, he owns the land, he owns the machines and he pays the people (and the parking lot is legal according to the previous report)...

So maybe he is a true dissident?

Or maybe it's time to look at city-building as an open-source activity...?

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