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Councillor takes action against ‘vexatious’ bylaw complaints

Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker talks to CityNews in Toronto City Hall on July 11, 2013. CITYNEWS

Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker is taking action against what he calls “vexatious” and overzealous bylaw complaints in his Scarborough ward.

One person made a staggering 60 complaints within a two-week period, De Baeremaeker says.

“We have an incredibly beautiful, peaceful little neighbourhood where we have one neighbor from hell,” De Baeremaeker told CityNews’ Cynthia Mulligan.

“This one person is harassing their neighbours and they’re using city of Toronto resources and city of Toronto inspectors to do it and it has to stop and is totally unfair.”

He now has a proposal, which will go before city council next week, which will allow city staff to deal with multiple complaints from one person. Inspectors will also be allowed to use their discretion in feuds among neighbours.

As it stands, De Baeremaeker said, “Our inspectors have no discretion — you’re either in compliance or you’re not compliant.”

He also pointed out that when an inspector is called, “whether it’s a two-inch infraction or a five-foot infraction,” the inspector is required to issue a notice of violation.

The cost to appeal a bylaw violation is $200. De Baeremaeker is asking that the fee be waived for residents in his ward in this case.

The infractions in question range from overgrown hedges to too-tall fences — seemingly minor problems that would usually go unnoticed.

Neighbours are unaware of what sparked the slew of complaints or even who they’re coming from.

De Baeremaeker says he has spoken to the person in the past, but not in the last two weeks since the complaints were filed.

“I don’t know what the grudge is and I can’t get inside people’s heads,” he said. “All I know is the reality is this one individual has harassed 60 families on trivial, trivial matters.”

Special to CityNews.ca