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Toronto family shocked they have to rip out $20K synthetic grass putting green

A Scarborough family said they were shocked to get a notice from the City of Toronto that the artificial grass in their backyard, including a putting green, will have to be ripped out.

Cedo Trivanovic is an avid golfer and installed the synthetic grass in his backyard four years ago. As much as he and his family enjoy golf, he said, at the time, they also decided to install the fake grass because it was easier for his mother-in-law to enjoy the backyard.

"She had health issues. She could go out in a wheelchair or a stroller, and she doesn't get caught in the mud, and she could see her flowers," Trivanovic told CTV News Toronto.

According to Trivanovic, there were no issues until a neighbour complained that rainwater ran off the synthetic grass and onto her property -- but he's adamant the fake lawn is porous and allows drainage.

"Underneath is 10 inches of gravel, then limestone, then perforated turf, so the drainage is actually better than grass," said Trivanovic.

Trivanovic said he demonstrated this for a Toronto bylaw officer and proved he could put "water anywhere here, and it drains away."

The family was still given a violation notice, requiring "a minimum 50 per cent of their rear yard must be soft landscaping." It also stated they must correct the violation and "bring the property into compliance."

Trivanoic said it cost $20,000 to install the turf, and the family is concerned it could cost that much to remove it.

However, the City of Toronto said artificial turf does not count towards soft landscaping, which is "soil or mulch suitable for trees, shrubs, flowers and plants, enhance biodiversity, cool the air, absorb rainwater and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."

"When rain and melted snow is not absorbed into the ground, that storm water runs off properties, onto streets, down storm drains and through a complex network of pipes that carry it into local waterways or, in some cases, wastewater treatment facilities," a city spokesperson told CTV News Toronto. "Toronto has a lot of impervious (hard) surface area, which combined with heavy rain, can result in more water making its way into the City's sewer system. Too much stormwater can overwhelm the sewer system, which can lead to flooded basements."

It's not the first turf war with city hall as other homeowners with synthetic grass have been ordered to remove their artificial lawns.

Frank Leone, 80, previously told CTV News Toronto he took the city to court to fight to keep his synthetic grass on his North York lawn, as he has limited mobility due to his age and having suffered a stroke.

“I think the city is bullying me. I think it's not fair,” Leone said during an interview in March.

Trivanovic said it's a court case he wants to join, adding how it is unfair some institutions can have fake grass but homeowners can't.

"From daycare's universities, schools, high schools and universities can all put turf down for kids to play on, and I think this is a wonderful backyard, and to put grass in here, to me, doesn't make sense," said Trivanovic.

The artificial grass case goes to court for a two-day hearing starting Oct. 12.

With files from Hannah Alberga and Sean Leathong Top Stories

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