Ruling to protect ravine is too little too late, say locals

A recent North York Community Council ruling prevents a Dawlish Avenue resident from building a driveway through a ravine that Lawrence Park locals want protected. The decision, however, cannot reverse a 15-foot retaining wall the owner built last year in anticipation of the driveway. “The fact that he built first, asked later — he took down many trees, unnecessarily,” said Anne McNeilly, a Dawlish Avenue resident.

“It’s just a big wall in the middle of the ravine doing nothing. There’s no purpose for it.” Neighbours said they contacted the city, when owner Payam Khazanbaik started constructing the wall leading from his property into the ravine behind Dawlish Avenue, but were given little information as to whether construction had been approved, said McNeilly.

The original site plan was drafted in 2006 when the lot was created as a result of an Ontario Municipal Board ruling that allowed for a property severance.

According to the plan and a second revised version from 2008 the two lots were to share a driveway that would connect to the road closest to the houses.

Community council refused the driveway because it owns a small strip of land abutting the road on the other side of the ravine.

The decision follows a municipal bylaw established in 1986, which prevents a road from running through the Dawlish ravine.

Khazanbaik built the retaining wall on his own property. To continue building the retaining wall and to attach the driveway to that road, Khazanbaik needed permission from the city. As for the retaining wall, John Dunn, manager from Toronto’s building division, said Khazanbaik did have a building permit for the entire site that allowed for its construction. Dunn said that is all that is needed and the process was followed correctly.

Dawlish locals hired a lawyer to dispute this. According to McNeilly, it can be argued that the Ontario Building Code classifies a retaining wall as a building structure, meaning a permit is needed. A complaint has been lodged with the city’s ombudsman.

Khazanbaik preferred not to comment on the wall but said he has agreed to follow through with what community council ruled. “I’m just happy it’s over,” he said.

Article exclusive to TRNTO