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Toronto man in a turf war with city after neighbour files complaint over synthetic grass


The grass in front of Frank Leone’s home has created a turf war with Toronto city hall.

"I cannot look after the real grass," he said in an interview with CTV News Toronto.

Leone said he installed synthetic grass because he is in his 80s, he's suffered a stroke, and has limited mobility – but the city is taking him to court.

"Even if I am handicapped, they don't care," he said.

Shortly after Leone's turf was installed, an anonymous complaint was filed by a neighbour, and Leone got a notice from the city.

“It’s just the fact that artificial turf is not listed as an approved material for soft landscaping. It’s not prohibited, it’s just not explicitly permitted,” former city councillor Karen Stintz told CTV News Toronto.

Stintz has been helping Leone, who called a bylaw officer to inspect the lawn. The bylaw officer gave approval last October.

“The enforcement bylaw officer told me, that the grass is permeable. Therefore, you're not breaking the law," Leone said.

After Leone got the approval in writing, he thought it was over. But, just a month later, a City building inspector said the lawn is not permeable, which means water cannot pass through.

Now, Leone faces a charge for failure to comply with an order, despite the previous approval from a bylaw officer.

"Somehow, this information was ignored," he said.

Leone went to court on Tuesday, and has another date set for March 14. Stintz says he is now caught in a jurisdictional issue within the city.

"Unfortunately for Frank, he's now being served with additional notices of violation, including fines, if he doesn't replace his grass within the next 30 days. Which is ridiculous because we're in the middle of February," she says.

According to the city’s bylaw for residential buildings, a minimum of 75 per cent of a property’s front yard must be soft landscaping. The city defines soft landscaping as "an open unobstructed area that supports the growth of vegetation such as grass, trees, shrubs, flowers, or other plants and that permits water infiltration into the ground."

Leone says he was told the primary issue with his artificial lawn was the lack of water flow, even though the turf has several holes allowing water to flow through easily.

Despite the confusion, Stintz says there should be a very simple solution to this problem. She said the bylaw should be amended to include synthetic turf, so that a mixup like this doesn't happen again.

“I heard about this case, and based on the limited information I have, I am baffled by it,” a statement from Mayor John Tory’s office said. “I want to be clear that I don’t think the fate of our city rises and falls on whether senior citizens in North York have artificial turf on their property – especially if another City representative told him it was OK at one point.”

He said that the city manager is aware, and that the mayor and council don't enforce or interfere in court matters. He is hopeful for a resolution. Top Stories

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