What happens when City rules work at cross-purposes?

The dumpster at 84 Russell, now occupied, has been in the front yard for 13 months. the good news is there is a crane in the backyard now too. Photo Harlequin Studios.

François Bregha

How long can one keep a dumpster on one’s front lawn for garbage disposal? Neighbours of 84 Russell Ave., a newish low-rise apartment building that has featured a large dumpster by its front door for over a year may well have puzzled over this question. The answer seems to be 13 months and counting!

84 Russell is a large four-storey, twelve-unit addition to an existing house that opened in September 2017. At the time, the City deemed the building ready for occupancy as it met the requirements of the Ontario Building Code, but construction was not complete as an addition at the back where garbage is to be stored was not finished and no landscaping had been done. The holdup was a grading concern at the back of the property (where there is a steep slope) that was flagged late in the project. This meant that the building remains technically a construction site, even though it is inhabited, and can therefore have a temporary dumpster on the property. Given that there is to be more construction at the back and that the side-yard is narrow, the only place to put the dumpster was at the front of the building. Unfortunately, there is no authority under the Ontario Building Code to require garbage facilities to be in place by the time of occupancy.

To be clear, the dumpster has been used over the last year for household garbage (and recyclables), not construction waste. It is open to rodents and does not conform to the City’s property standards bylaw. But the bylaw apparently does not apply to “active” construction sites.

In April of this year, the City reported that the owner was in the process of obtaining a new site plan and would move the dumpster to the rear when construction was complete. In September, the dumpster was still in front of the building.

It is true that the City is withholding security funds from the developer that it will return only once all construction has been completed and the site plan control agreement signed off. Given the length of time that has elapsed, these funds clearly do not provide much incentive to expedite the work.

In late September, there was heavy equipment in the building’s backyard and it looked as though the grading and landscaping were finally going to take place.

Neighbours who have lived with garbage storage on the street for a year will be forgiven if they don’t hold their breath: a couple of doors over, a new building at the corner of Russell and Osgoode has just opened its doors. It too features a dumpster by its front door.

There is an election later this month. Readers may want to ask candidates what they would do to close this obvious loophole to the City’s property standards by-law.