The city spends $500,000 to prove a point about renovating without a permit
After losing a six-year court battle and ponying up over $200,000 in legal fees, Shih and Yang Tseng, 76 and 70 years old, respectively, may have learned a lesson: don’t build anything without a permit. The couple and their adult children spent $80,000 to replace a rotting home addition with another that is 10 metres larger than what city rules currently allow, and have been fighting ever since to keep it. A committee-of-adjustment panel finally ruled on Wednesday that the structure must go, which sounds like a win for the city, except that it has spent roughly half-a-million taxpayer dollars on the case, according to councillor Adam Vaughan. In one more desperate effort to keep their structure, the couple have filed a plea to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. However, with that organization’s plate already full with other pressing issues, our bet is on the structure being demolished sooner rather than later. [Toronto Star]
20 thoughts on “The city spends $500,000 to prove a point about renovating without a permit”
Very sad situation all around, and I feel terribly for the poor people, I wish them the very best and hope they get well soon. Having said that, you blew it, so take your lumps. CASE CLOSED?
Do these people have a lawyer representing them ? is he for free ? As I dont see the point of appealing as it will send the wrong message for everyone to do the same. I cant recall if the house addition was done to accomodate making the home barrier free for the disable ? if not, sorry – stop wasting ya money and fire your lawyer!!
These people’s adult professional children helped them plan and build the addition, one of whom is a lawyer. There is simply no excuse and their ploy of using their family’s suicide history to gain sympathy to get around the law is nothing short of despicable. I would go even further of awarding cost against the city against them.
These people’s adult professional children helped them plan and build the addition, one of whom is a lawyer. There is simply no excuse and their ploy of using their family’s suicide history to gain sympathy to get around the law is nothing short of despicable. I would go even further of awarding cost of the city against them.
How far will the city go to prove a point? Not only a collosal waste of taxpayer money, but the example being set here is beware of your neighbours. The Brunswick neighbours work the system at City Hall with the local Councillor Adam Vaughan supporting them to deny the elderly couple a chance to apply for a permit, then blame them for having no permit, then get the City to spend $500,000 to prove the point that – aha! – there was no permit, therefore, there must be a demolition. What a shameful precedent for the City to be setting. If the City is desperate to prove a point, there’s unfinished buildings done without permits in the local Councillor’s ward that have been an obvious eyesore for 10 years. The law should apply to everyone equally, not based on who you know at City Hall & your connections to the local Councillor.
do you know this for a fact Micheal ? if it goes like that, this is bizarre indeed
“The neighbours work the system at City Hall with the local Councillor supporting them to deny the elderly couple a chance to apply for a permit” – How does that even work?
They built an expensive addition without a permit and it now has to go. Doesn’t matter if they’re elderly.
The permit policy can be annoying but it’s an important, especially in historic down town areas.
Don’t like the idea of how much was spent by the city on this… but it would be far worse if the city had done nothing. A clear message needs to be sent that property owners cannot ignore zoning bylaws.
The message is a very simple and a very clear one. Do not build first and seek approval later. The fact that this addition is too tall, too wide and too deep for the lot is the reason it has been turned down by every tribunal and court that has heard the applicant’s case. The city has sought damages and been rewarded costs, if an appeal continues further costs will be a consideration.
If you are renovating, and in particular if you are adding an addition to your house please check with City Hall. I appreciate that the process can be complex and time consuming, but if you build illegally there are serious consequences not to mention safety concerns. Neighbours have rights too.
Finally, to those who believe the city is wrong to have spent so much protecting zoning and building code requirements, imagine a city where all you had to do is go to court and the city backed away. What would stop a garbage dump opening up on your block?
In cases like this a clear message must be sent, and in fact has been sent repeatedly, by the courts. Do not build first and seek approval later.
The Tsengs have suffered enough. The city should have found a compromise long ago and come up with a solution rather than wasting tax dollars.
Stop wasting our tax money. Proving the point for half a meter is ridiculous. There are monster additions without permits. Someone has it in for them and is using this as an excuse.
Many have hit it on the head. Is this a city action you want the world to know you for? It seems that one family is singled out and penelties are high.where is the compassion?
Please!!! Leave this family alone…what a waste of tax dollars that could be better utilized in another fashion.
These folks have a cottage in Muskoka and have disregarded the bypass and any neighborly consideration. Their arrogance and disregard for rules while hiding behind culture and sympathy is apauling.
Tear it down!!!
this is a complete waste of tax dollars. for what 10 meters? on their own property. This city completely wasteful. These people that work for the city should be fired.
if it was built according to safety standards and built on their own lot without disturbing the neighbours than this $500000 of tax dollars completely wasted.
A message sent at what cost? When the city is already struggling to keep employment and barely holding itself up, wasting money like this is completely ridiculous.
Of course no one whats to live next door to a garbage dump or loud neigherbours, but that is not the situation here. You have to look at this particular situation.
If the people working for city are not smart enough to come up with an alternative solution, they should leave their positions.
“hiding behind culture”? racist much?
This kind of ignorance is the reasons the city is they way it is. Have some intellectualism, contemplation and thought before you speak.
This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. This is the 4th largest city in north america. It is a business city. It is a liberal city. It is a city of immigrants.
You can take the city in many directions but if you want to take it in the right direction, consider the reasoning behind spending $500000 of tax dollars on this case. This is the wrong direction.
if my husband and i were caught reno-ing without a permit, we’d get busted, why shouldn’t this couple? shouldn’t the laws be the same for everyone? why should they get a pass if you, me or anyone else in the same situation would not?
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