August 17, 2016 4:20 pm
Updated: August 17, 2016 6:01 pm

Former La Carnita patio now open for public use after fight with condo owners, officials

WATCH ABOVE: The fences have come down in the space outside La Carnita restaurant on John Street despite the owner's claim he had the proper permits. Mark McAllister reports.

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The fences are now down where a private patio for La Carnita restaurant on John Street once stood.

The move to open the space up comes after a heated dispute between the business, residents in the condo tower above and the city over proper permits.

“This is a public space and not a private patio,” condo owner Andrea Frisina said. “This battle’s been going on for four months now and finally we’re just getting the attention we need.”

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The small area featuring a fountain with rocks and benches was designated a Privately Owned Publicly-Accessible Space (POPS) by the city when the development was built.

La Carnita’s owner claims he had the rights prior to that and has the documentation to prove it.

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“The POP designation actually came into effect after we got our permit to have a private patio,” La Carnita owner Andrew Richmond said.

“There’s some discrepancies there that really need to be understood.”

Chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat immediately responded via social media when she became aware of the issue last week saying the fence has been “illegally erected” and “that permission was never obtained.”

Private developers often agree to create POPS as part of the application process with the city to create new buildings. More than 100 exist in Toronto and are available for the public to enjoy.

“There’s so many people moving into this area and we haven’t really been great at creating new public spaces to serve that growth of population,” a member of the group Park People, Jake Tobin Garrett said.

“Any little sliver of public space that we have, we should really protect.”

Richmond said he has three new proposals that have been submitted to the city to try and find a compromise for use of the space in the near future.

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