We had a special Council meeting this week. Instead of a regular night of councilly business, we reviewed four Section 57 filings. We do these on non-regular meeting nights, because they are a little more like a hearing than a regular council meeting, as the owners of the subject properties are able to come and hear their case, and address Council with their concerns.
A Section 57 Notice on Title is a form of soft enforcement the City can apply on property owners who have been found to be non-compliant to building or zoning Bylaws. A notice goes on the on the property title indicating that the property is not compliant with bylaws, and that the City has ordered the property owner to take corrective action. If the corrective action is taken the notice can be removed, but until then the owner may have difficulty selling the property or securing a mortgage on the property. Most importantly, it lets any potential purchaser know that the property is non-compliant, so they don’t get caught by surprise.
The City doesn’t do too many of these, as they are a bit of a hassle and not the only enforcement tool staff have, but they have a purposeful role. I think we have done fewer than a half dozen in my time on Council. The four reviewed during this meeting were:
1: A house in Queensborough where the owner enclosed an outdoor deck and built a living space into the back of their tandem garage. These works were done without a building permit or inspections, and the resultant living space in the house exceeds the zoning allowance by 319 square feet. The original issues were first identified by Bylaws staff back in 2016, and the owner has shown no proactive measures to address the non-compliance.
2: A house in the West End where the owner enclosed an outdoor deck and built an extension onto an elevated rear deck resulting in a house that is 46 Square Feet above the floor space allowed by zoning and 63 square feet more lot coverage than allowed. These works were done without a building permit or inspections. The issues were first identified in 2016, and the owner has not taken any proactive measures to address the issues.
3: A House in Connaught Heights with a slightly complicated ownership history that has made enforcement difficult. This property also had an unlawfully enclosed deck and an illegal secondary suite with significant safety concerns. The livable floor space exceed zoning allowance by 250 square feet, and these works were done without permits or inspections. Enforcement activities have been going on since 2013, and the owner has refused to comply to previous orders.
4: An industrial property in the Braid Industrial Area where three buildings (two tent-like storage buildings and one office space) were constructed without permits or inspections. This site has a complicated history, in part related to the industrial activity on the site.
Council moved to place the Section 57 notices on all 4 properties. Hopefully, this will compel the owners to bring them into compliance, and no further enforcement action will be required.