A plaza, divided: How a small fence is causing big problems
Published Wednesday, January 6, 2016 8:09AM EST
A small fence is causing big issues for business owners and customers at a plaza in Bolton, Ont.
A chain link fence was put up between neighbouring buildings at a strip mall on Allan Drive in the community northwest of Toronto, separating the buildings that have shared a parking lot since 1977.
The north building -- which includes a Harvey's, Dollarama and thrift store – was purchased by a new owner who also tried, unsuccessfully, to buy the other building in the parking lot.
In December, the owner erected a fence along the property line, dividing the shared parking lot in two.
Because the parking lot was not originally built on the property line, several parking spots that straddled the line now have a fence running through them.
There is no break in the fence either, so shoppers who park on one side have to walk around it to get to the businesses on the other side.
"I used to walk through here, through there. Now I got to go all the way around," one visitor complained to CTV Barrie.
"I think the fence is ridiculous, to be honest," another man told reporters.
The fence is an inconvenience for drivers, but it's more than a nuisance for the owners of businesses in the south building. Because of the narrow distance between the fence and the shops' doors, vehicles are unable to pull up directly in front of the businesses on that side of the building.
Consignment store owner Kim Campbell said she has to load and unload furniture and other large items, and is forced to walk around the fence to get to vehicles delivering items or picking them up.
"It's very unfair. We're being held hostage," Campbell said.
The fence is also a fire hazard, because it would impede access to the buildings in event of a fire or other emergency.
"It makes it illegal, as far as obstructions for the fire route and access to the building," Caledon Deputy Fire Chief Mark Wallace said.
Wallace said officials have asked the owner to cut two openings in the fence that would allow crews to get through. The owner is appealing the department's demands with the Office of the Fire Marshal.
The fire department has to submit a report by the end of the month before a decision will be made.
The ongoing conflict has led to the creation of a Twitter account called "The Bolton Fence," where the account owner often posts messages and photos about "fencegate."
The account bio reads: "A simple chain link fence. I love to stop things traveling from one side of me to the other and I enjoy watching winter sunsets with my security guard."
With reports from CTV Toronto's Heather Wright and CTV Barrie's Rob Cooper