The Korce Group, landlords of 29 Church Street, are in trouble again, this time down at City Hall.
Tomorrow, council will consider the garbage situation at the building; it is often poorly contained, and the landlords have long resisted efforts to clean it up.
The City is making the landlords an offer: they’ll pick the garbage up on George Street, if Korce fixes up the property, including:
A new waste enclosure
A check of the underground garage to see if it will support a garbage truck
Removal of a fence
Removal of parking spaces
It seems unlikely that the landlords will go for this option; rather than deal with the garbage situation, which has clearly been very bad for a very long time, they continue to use their lawyer to fight things out. The lawyer, Leroy Bleta, says “my client Korce Group Ltd. remains in compliance…. [and] the cedar trees planted around the perimeter of the garbage/recycling containment area are compliant”.
The city disagrees. They say “An inspection of the property on February 4, 2016 revealed there was current [sic] no compliance with the notice and no work had been started to achieve compliance.”
Your humble correspondent has a suggestion: pay someone $18 an hour to clean up the garbage twice a week. It would be much cheaper than a lawyer. It would also be the right thing to do. I believe that lawyers can sometimes be mistaken on this tricky point: the law is a poor proxy for neighbourliness.
It takes a lot of work to give landlords a bad name, but the Korce Group, owners of 29 Church Street, are taking a run at it.
The apartment building has long had issues with garbage, and rather than put money into fixing the problems, they fight City Hall.
The OMB ordered the owners to build a 5′ wooden fence to control their garbage in 2005. Korce never did. Instead, in 2015 (ten years after the original order), they put in a hedge, which neither does the job of retaining garbage nor complies with the law. After a decade of disregarding the OMB’s order, they have asked the city to give them permission to continue breaking the law.
The application, thank goodness, was denied by Etobicoke York Community Council this week due to neighbourhood opposition.
The cedar fence reduced visibility for automobiles, because it was planted next to the driveway. There are two schools nearby and school children, among others, use the sidewalk.
Also, the garbage is simply a mess, and it has been so for years. Google Street View tells no lies: for at least 5 years, waste management has been getting progressively worse. Click through and then click on “Jul 2015” to see the history yourself.
Councillor Nunziata asked community council this week to ensure that there are “ongoing enforcement (and related charges) at this property” in line with city bylaws.
The repeated law-scoffing at 29 Church is creating a minor crisis at City Hall, and Korce Group (the landlords) may now be wishing they had just taken out the garbage.
In 2003, the landlords installed three apartments on the main floor of the building and refused to provide enough parking for tenants. City officials refused to grant after-the-fact permission for the apartments, and the landlords appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.
The OMB forgave some aspects of the landlord’s actions but put conditions on the building. And now, much later, it turns out Korce Group has ignored the conditions.
This was a decade before the landlords paid lawyers rather than builders and tried to get around building garbage facilities and doing repairs at 29 Church. Yet the more recent events seem to have drawn the attention of our City Councillor.
In the Licensing and Standards Committee meeting from last week, Frances Nunziata said,
A recent case in which it was discovered that the conditions within an OMB decision and order from 2005 were not adhered to, nor enforced by the City, raises the question of who is responsible for enforcing OMB decisions and orders….It has been brought to my attention that the instance noted above in which the conditions within an OMB decision have not been enforced is not uncommon.
She is asking a City Manager to report and explain what can be done to better enforce OMB decisions.
Also (and this delights me), late last year she asked that city staff go enforce the orders from 2005.