Our treehouse letter.

Hello Mr. Man*,

I am confused by what appears to be inconsistent application of city bylaws in relation to our backyard playhouse.

I understand that this issue originates from complaints from our neighbor, Mr. Grumpy (or by people on his behalf) about various issues relating to our adjacent properties and most recently a complaint about the playhouse. I understand further from speaking with our neighbour’s daughter-in-law and also his friend that our neighbour was previously told by the city that our playhouse does not violate any setback requirements.

As further background context, please also know that Mr. Grumpy has complained before about the location of our front downspout, which we resolved to the city’s satisfaction, but apparently not to his. Since that time, Mr. Grumpy has launched a campaign of harassment and intimidation, including erecting unsafe barriers in a mutual walkway, threatening to kill my husband and myself, and striking my husband with an eight foot long piece of rebar. We reported the latter two incidents to the police, but at my husband’s insistence, no charges were laid. Subsequently, Mr. Grumpy, unhappy with the city’s response to his complaints, had the police come out to inspect the playhouse, but was told (in my presence) that it was not a police matter. I hope you will understand that as a mother of three young children, I feel threatened by his behavior and am concerned for the safety of my children. Please know as well that we have no intention of violating any applicable city bylaws.

When you met with me in early August, you told me that we needed to cut back the roof line of our playhouse so that it did not overhang the fence line and so that rainwater did not shed onto our neighbour’s property. When I specifically asked you if we needed to move the playhouse, you said no. My husband then cut the roof line to meet your requirements well before your 30 day deadline. We therefore considered this matter closed.

We were surprised to receive a notice of violation on Sept 20 directing us to correct a defect in a minimum rear yard setback as required by section 10.5.60.20 of bylaw 569-2013. This notice is clearly inconsistent with your earlier instructions and so I immediately left a message for you to contact me to clarify the matter. I appreciate your prompt visit on the following Monday morning.

During your visit on Sept 23, in conversation with my husband, you acknowledged that the bylaw referenced in the notice did not apply because our playhouse had been constructed before the bylaw came into effect and you told my husband to disregard the notice of violation. The playhouse was in fact built in July 2012. You explained to my husband that your jurisdiction was limited to enforcing the city’s bylaws (setback requirements in this case), and that issues of encroachment were to be handled as a civil matter between landowners. You then asked to obtain a copy of any survey of our property to make sure that the playhouse was within the property line.

I’m confused about the scope of your jurisdiction and what is required of us. If, in fact, you have determined that the notice is not valid because the referenced bylaw does not apply, then I do not understand why anything further is required of us since we are not presently on notice of any bylaw violation. To be clear, our position is that the fence line (which was constructed by Mr. Grumpy long before we purchased the property) clearly demarcates the property line. Since our playhouse is within the fence line, there is no encroachment issue. Even if there was an encroachment issue, you’ve stated that such an issue is to be dealt within civil court and is outside of the city’s jurisdiction.

In the circumstances, I strongly believe that we have acted reasonably and in compliance with your instructions. Please confirm your advice to disregard the notice of violation and confirm further that this matter will therefore be closed.

Yours truly,

The nice family who live next to Mr. Grumpy.

*Names have been changed… duh!