Hamilton

Fence blocking a public Dundas alley has come down

The landowner voluntarily took down the fence and withdrew his offer to buy the property. "This is what victory looks like," says one resident.
"This is what victory looks like," says David Jones, a Dundas resident fighting the fence. (David Jones)

The much-maligned fence that's been blocking an unassumed alleyway in Dundas is gone.

People were streaming out of their homes to go and bear witness to the fence coming down.- David Jones, Dundas resident

The land owner who built the fence and offered to buy part of the alley between Victoria and Alma streets has taken down the fence and withdrawn his offer, says Arlene VanderBeek, Ward 13 councillor. So, the laneway remains public.

"I took my dog and trotted over to the public alley," said David Jones, one of more than 200 residents who voiced opposition to the fence. "People were streaming out of their homes to go and bear witness to the fence coming down.

"The thought that came into my head was this is what victory looks like."

It seems unbelievable that the city cannot enforce the removal of a structure on its own property.- Coun. Arlene VanderBeek

The fence became an issue earlier this summer when it appeared across an unassumed alleyway between a day care centre and a Catholic elementary school. Jones says it was built by local developer Len Medeiros, who put in an offer to buy the parcel of property running alongside his lot. The nominal rate for such purchases is $2.

The city confirmed that someone offered to buy the property, but said it could do nothing about the fence since it was across an unassumed alley.

More than 200 residents voiced opposition to a sale and urged the city to act. 

VanderBeek told residents of the movement in an email Friday morning.

"No more fence!" she wrote.

How alleys were perceived 20 years ago was greatly different from how they're perceived today.- Coun. Sam Merulla

"Following conversations with the applicant, he has voluntarily agreed to remove the fence."

VanderBeek says she's looking into city policies and procedures about how alleyways are handled, and will bring it up at an upcoming city council committee meeting. 

"It seems unbelievable that the city cannot enforce the removal of a structure on its own property," she wrote.

Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor, said this week that he's had unassumed alley issues in his ward. Typically, one resident can build a fence and buy the property if the other residents abutting the alley agree to do it too.

But he said it's time for a larger conversation about how the city treats its alleys.

"How alleys were perceived 20 years ago was greatly different from how they're perceived today," he said. Now, they can connect to bike lanes and become "part of an urban trail system." 

"I'm not really in favour of getting rid of unassumed alleys." 

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