TORONTO - Environment Minister Laurel Broten has bowed to her neighbours' objections and changed a planned two-storey garage at her Toronto home to one level.

Her about-face was announced just hours before the Ontario Municipal Board ruled Broten and her husband could not build the larger garage on their lakefront home.

With an election just three months away, the controversy over the proposed two-storey garage was becoming a distraction for the Liberal government.

Broten and her husband sent a letter to the Ontario Municipal Board on Friday saying they no longer wanted a variance from height restrictions in their west-end neighbourhood.

But the letter was too late to stop a board hearing Tuesday into neighbours' complaints that the tall garage would dwarf their properties and might damage a large tree.

The board ruled in favour of Broten's neighbours and said she could not have the variance to build the two-storey garage.

However, the board will take another two to four weeks to rule on a request by the complaining neighbours to have the Brotens pay their legal costs for the challenge.

The environment minister and her husband have four cars: a hybrid, a fuel-efficient SUV and two sports cars.