The city has ordered the owner of the vacant property to comply with an order not to park any cars on the footprint of the demolished office building.
By Ryan McGreal
Published May 07, 2015
this article has been updated
The City has issued a notice of compliance to the owner of the vacant property 20 Jackson Street West for violating a bylaw that prohibits property owners from demolishing a downtown building and putting surface parking in its place.
Cars parked on building footprint at 20 Jackson Street West
He has been given until May 8 at midnight to ensure that no cars are parked on the footprint of the former three-storey office building that was demolished in late 2013.
This is not the first order the property owner, Wilson-Blanchard, has received for this property. The company turned the footprint of the demolished building into an illegal parking lot after demolishing it.
The City investigated the site in December 2013 after being alerted to it, and they issued an order to stop using the site as a parking lot.
The owner responded to the order in January 2014 by blocking off a rectangle of the property with raised curb stops.
However, a comparison of the blocked-off area with the former footprint of the building indicates that only part of the building footprint was blocked off.
Here is a photo of the lot taken yesterday, looking from the southwest:
Current photograph: 20 Jackson Street West property, looking from southwest
For comparison, here is a screen capture from Google Street View showing the property when the building was still in existence:
Google Street View image: 20 Jackson Street West property, looking from southwest
In particular, look at the location of the tree and the rounded curb bumpout near the bottom left.
When the building was still standing, its footprint extended to at most one metre east of the tree trunk.
However, the blocked-out portion of the lot ends several metres east of the tree trunk. In the current photo above, you can see a car stopped there as it prepares to pull out of the parking lot.
The property owner might try to claim that since that section is serving as an ingress/egress lane for parking cars rather than parking spots, it does not violate the bylaw.
This seems to be a specious argument: the driving lanes in a parking lot are as much an essential part of the lot as the parking spots themselves. Cars do not simply drop into parking spots from the air: they must be able to drive in and out.
The City's Licencing Division was notified and an officer was dispatched on-site today to investigate.
Al Fletcher, the City's Manager of Licencing Inspections and Enforcement, sent RTH the following email to explain the City's response:
Our Officer has investigated. The original agreement was that the use of the parking lot could not create any new parking spaces. The owner blocked off a portion of the property with curb stops and was permitted an access lane to be used for vehicle movement only to assist with the stacked parking of cars being more easily manoeuvered.
We felt this to be a reasonable compromise given there was no net increase in parking spaces and only created more efficient movements. No further complaints were received.
Today, the Officer found 3 vehicles parked in the driving lane. Officer spoke with the onsite operator and explained the issue as well as issued a notice of compliance which would result in no vehicles parking in the driving lane. Compliance is by May 8 at midnight.
Should the cars continue to use the driving lane, the operator will be issued order to block off the driving lane restricting further use. Further non-compliance will result in zoning related non-compliance charges against the operator and property owner.
The property owner was just in contact with the Officer and same explanation provided.
Update: updated to add the response from Al Fletcher and a photo of the lot with cars parked on the building footprint, which was submitted by an RTH reader.
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