Crossing the line: Côte Saint-Luc landlord up in arms over city’s request to remove fence

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Crossing the line: Côte Saint-Luc landlord up in arms over city’s request to remove fence
WATCH: A property owner in Côte Saint-Luc is wondering why municipal officials are insisting that he remove a structure he built near his building. He was fed up with finding dog excrements on his lawn and believes the new fence not only keeps his property clean it also enhances curb appeal. But as Global's Phil Carpenter reports, according to city rules, he has crossed the line. – Sep 8, 2023

Giuseppe Sorgente’s new fence around his rental property in Montreal’s Côte Saint-Luc suburb is his pride and joy.

“Well, my brother built the pieces in Ottawa and I had to go pick them up,” he told Global News, so they were a gift.”

He assembled it about a month ago but there’s just one problem. City authorities have told him his fence is illegal.

“Now they’re telling me they want me to move the fence 18 feet (away from the sidewalk).”

According to him, Côte Saint-Luc authorities say that the fence is on city property, but he insists that his certificate of location indicates the fence is on his land. Sorgente admits that he did not inquire about getting a permit before he started to build because he didn’t know he would need one.

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One reason that he thought his fence would be fine is that it connects to an older one at the back of the house which existed when he bought the property more than a decade ago, and which he claims the city hasn’t asked him to move.

Further confusing him, he says that city officials told him that a hedge or a brush would be acceptable.

Some neighbours think the fence does add curb appeal and are surprised by the city’s restriction.

“I think that it’s something that should stay around because it makes the neighbourhood look a lot more homey,” Ariel Dahan pointed out.

Sorgente’s wife Debbie Bellini says besides that, there’s a practical reason the fence is needed — to keep dogs off the property.

“Not all dog owners pick up after their animals,” she noted.  “It’s very unfortunate.”

In an email, deputy mayor Dida Berku explains that “the city has a public right of way along all private properties adjacent to the street and sidewalk. This right of way varies in depth from 6 ft. to 18 ft. For the city it’s important to maintain this right of way for many reasons, including the required installation and maintenance of public utilities that exist above ground and underground that must be accessible at all times.”

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“In general, constructing a solid fence on city property is not allowed. Hedges and bushes are allowed because they can be easily removed.”

The official also wrote there are other cases in which residents have encroached illegally on city property, but that authorities try to accommodate residents who have special circumstances. She advises Sorgente to keep in touch with the city regarding his case, to find a resolution.

The property owner says he plans to.

“But you know, the law is the law,” he smiled. “We have to listen to them if not, we’re screwed.”

He still hopes he can work something out with the city.

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