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North York residents looking to save fence they say deters crime

Last Updated Apr 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm EDT

Residents at a North York apartment building say a single fence is the only thing that gives them privacy and deters loitering and vandalism.

Residents put up the fence 12 years ago as a measure of privacy and to deter the loitering and vandalism — and it worked

But the city is now telling residents the fence violates city by-laws and they have until the end of the month to take it down.

“One time we had kids take the hose, open a window in one of the basement apartments, ran the hose through and flooded the apartment,” says Sheila Fitzgerald, who’s lived in the building for 23 years. “We’ve had break ins at the back where there’s a door access and things stolen.”

She says former tenants had enough and put the fence up in less than a day, over a decade ago.

“They even called the police at the time to say we were going to put a fence up and the police said do it,” recalls Fitzgerald. “They were sick of coming out here because there wasn’t much they could do.”

She says residents never had any complaints about the fence until now they received the notice from the city. Sheila admits it’s encroaching on city property but she’s concerned for residents’ privacy.

On one side of the fence is a nice park. The other side is unkempt green space.

The City owns a continuous set of parkland and trails along the east side of Allen Road from Lawrence to Eglinton Avenue and now wants to create a north-south connection for pedestrians and cyclists along this corridor.

Local councillor Josh Colle says taking the fence down would give residents better access to transit.

“There are a lot of opportunity to get north to the subway but a lot of people can’t get south” said Colle.

The property lies about halfway between the Lawrence and Glencairn subway stations.

“We’ve got growth in the area where more people want to get access to the subway stops by foot and I think that increased pedestrian traffic volume made people realize there was something weird here with this path being blocked by a private fence.”

Councillor Colle says he wants everyone to be consulted and for the tenants’ privacy to be protected.

Sheila still isn’t convinced the path is needed.

“There are two subways at equal distance, you have Lawrence Station on one side, Glencairn Station on the other, “ said Fitzgerald. “The path is just a little too close to home.”

Residents have until April 30 to comply with the city’s orders but councillor Colle says it’s not a hard deadline, he’s open to discussion and he wants to come to a solution everyone can agree on.