A man in Quebec's Eastern Townships has had to break down his backyard ice rink after a neighbour made a complaint about it to the City of Sherbrooke.
Jean Christophe Bossé has been building a neighbourhood rink in his backyard for the past five years.
Every year he toils for hours, outfitting the 12-by-18-metre rink with boards and lights.
But there will be no hockey this winter. The city said the structure contravenes area zoning bylaws and told Bossé he had to take it down or risk receiving a hefty fine.
“The [complaint] doesn’t hold water. It was a family rink,” he said. “All this kind of decision from the city does is encourage other people to make complaints.”
Bossé said the bylaw in question doesn’t outlaw residential rinks — just rinks destined for mixed commercial and residential uses. Even so, he complied.
Neighbour Normand Grenier is relieved. He said he doesn’t like looking at a big white wall and netting for half a year.
“I found that, in my kitchen or in my dining room, it created a significant visual impact. My land is 12 feet lower than his.… It caused me visual harm,” Grenier said.
He said the sound of pucks constantly banging off the boards was too loud, and that the presence of the rink would reduce the value of his home if he decided to sell it one day.
According to the city, Bossé needs a permit to build a rink with boards, although its website doesn’t specify that detail.
City planning director Danielle Gilbert said Bossé could possibly have put the rink farther back on his property to reduce its effect on his neighbour.
Bossé said that play on the ice always stopped before 9 p.m. so he could water the rink and allow it to freeze overnight.
He hopes to challenge the decision and have his rink back up and running before the end of winter.