Ottawa backyard rink boards taken down, rink remains after neighbour calls bylaw

Ottawa dad describes support family has received over homemade rink uproar
WATCH: Ottawa dad describes support family has received over homemade rink uproar

After a small dispute over a homemade rink went viral on social media, an Ottawa family wants the city’s bylaw department to be more clear about what people can on their lots.

Cory Cosgrove has been building the rink for the last five years for the neighbourhood but this is the first time he’s built the rink with boards, which sparked the bylaw complaint.

According to Cosgrove, the neighbour who called didn’t like the way the boards looked.

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Cosgrove says he normally builds the rink later in winter when the temperatures are more consistently cold. This year, due to a cold snap in November, he was able to build the rink early. He put the boards up so he could maintain it more effectively. His property slants toward the road so the boards were put up to prevent the ice from following that slope.

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Cosgrove and his family live on a corner lot in Riverside South. The rink was built on the portion of land that abuts the corner, but according to bylaw, the rink is encroaching on the “right of way” part of the property.

According to the city, the “right of way” is the portion of land on a lot that belongs to the city that is held in case construction needs to be done, such as road widening or sewer work. Though the city does own the portion, the homeowner is responsible for maintaining the land, such as keeping the grass cut and snow cleared.

“By-law and regulatory services has been working closely with the owners of the hockey rink since receiving a complaint about it five weeks ago,” said Roger Chapman, director of bylaw and regulatory services in an email.

Chapman said that while the rink did violate several bylaws, the city understands the importance of hockey and has no problem with the rink, so long as the boards are removed.

“The rink may remain in use, however BLRS requested that the rink be moved closer to the house and for the boards to be removed. The home owners have complied and at this time the matter is considered closed,” Chapman said.

The city’s concern is the potential the stakes that they believe were used to erect the boards might have damaged some infrastructure and utility lines. Cosgrove said no stakes were used in the construction.

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Cosgrove said he isn’t upset with the city. He just wants clarification on what he can do on the portion of land that he has to take care of. “I have to pay taxes on the whole lot and I have to maintain it, but I can’t use it.”

According to the city, Cosgrove can pretty much do anything to the land as long as he doesn’t build on it or dig into it.

Mayor Jim Watson also chimed in. He tweeted out the day before that he will be speaking to city officials it. He chalks the situation up to people just not talking to each other.

“I think my hope is that this is a lesson for neighbours to communicate with one another and see if we can’t find an amicable solution,” Watson said. “Canadians are pretty good at compromising and finding a win-win situation so hopefully with the boards down, which seemed to be the complaint by this neighbour because of the unsightliness, the kids can still continue playing hockey.”

For now, though, the boards have been removed and what was once a rink is now just a large block of ice. Cosgrove has packed some of the remaining snow around it but knows that if it rains or warms up, the kids will have to wait until it gets much colder to play on the rink again.

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If that does occur it won’t the end of hockey on his lawn though, Cosgrove says. Once the consistent cold weather comes, the rink will be back.