Toronto

Elaborate boat-treehouse must come down, says city

Bloor West Village resident John Alpeza had figured there was slim chance he'd be able to keep his elaborate, 108-square foot treehouse up in his backyard. Today, the Committee of Adjustment proved him right.

Resident had figured keeping his treehouse would be a longshot

John Alpeza stands in front of the boat treehouse in his backyard, which he'll now have to take down. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

The city told John Alpeza in April that he had just a week to dismantle the 108-square foot boat-treehouse in his Bloor West Village backyard.

Alpeza vowed not to take it down. After CBC News first reported the story, the treehouse drew admiration from people across the city, including Mayor John Tory, but it also became a focal point for debate over bylaws and neighbourly disputes.

Today, Alpeza made his appeal to the Committee of Adjustment, and lost.

Alpeza arrived with letters of support from neighbours, and petitions, including one from his son's class. But after hearing from several parties, including Alpeza, his wife, and the person whose complaint prompted the debacle, the Committee unanimously rejected his application.

Alpeza claimed the treehouse cost $30,000 and took three years to build. During that time, it rankled at least one of his neighbours. Kate Lawson complained about it to the City, prompting the original order for the treehouse to come down.

"I feel that it's overly large, is what I think," she previously told CBC News.

The treehouse has all the features of a boat, including a hull, ship's wheel, bell and even an anchor. It also has retractable windows, swing ropes, a hammock, an eating area, four different entrances and enough seating for his two children and their friends.

"It's nice to give the kids their own space, let them make their own little world. Imagination is so important. They can use that to play, instead of video games again," Alpeza told CBC News back in April. "They have a great time."

It would appear those great times may now be numbered. Alpeza can appeal today's decision to the Ontario Municipal Board within about 20 days.