Cou­ple with­draws from Wy­ch­wood levy

Home­own­ers re­fused to pay for up­keep of pri­vate ar­eas and won

North Toronto Post - - News - — Gideon Scan­lon

Two Wy­ch­wood Park res­i­dents have suc­cess­fully with­drawn from a cen­tury-old agree­ment that re­quired them to pay an an­nual levy for the up­keep of the com­mu­nity’s pri­vate com­mon ar­eas.

On May 18, the Court of Ap­peal for On­tario ruled in favour of Kather­ine An­der­son and Ger­ald Owen, whose fam­ily has lived on Al­cina Av­enue for more than a cen­tury. The judg­ment ab­solves the cou­ple of any re­spon­si­bil­ity to pay fees levied by the pri­vate neigh­bour­hood’s trus­tees, that help to cover an­nual main­te­nance costs for the shared road, pond and ten­nis court.

In the de­ci­sion, Jus­tice Eleanore Cronk noted the con­clu­sion could have im­pli­ca­tions for the rights and obli­ga­tions of the trus­tees and other landown­ers cur­rently held ac­count­able to the trust deed es­tab­lished in 1891.

The le­gal drama be­gan in 2008, when long­time res­i­dent Ivor Owen took is­sue with pay­ing for the com­mu­nity’s pri­vate grounds.

A pre­vi­ous court rul­ing re­quired Owen to pay the levy. How­ever when his son Ger­ald and daugh­ter-in-law Kather­ine An­der­son in­her­ited the house af­ter his death in 2010, they, too, re­fused to pay, and the is­sue re­turned to the courts an­other four times.

Now, with the end of any le­gal obli­ga­tion to pay an­nual levies, there has been some spec­u­la­tion that Wy­ch­wood Park’s 125-year history as a pri­vate neigh­bour­hood may soon draw to a close.

“I think it would be a shame if the land was taken over by the city,” said Sarah El­iz­a­beth, a local res­i­dent of the area for more than 20 years. “I guess we will have to wait and see if the com­mu­nity is still pre­pared to pay its dues.”

For Roger Dent, one of the park’s three trus­tees, the le­gal bat­tle has been a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple. Since the value of Wy­ch­wood Park homes av­er­age well above $2 mil­lion, Dent noted the an­nual four-fig­ure levies are an in­signif­i­cant bur­den on most res­i­dents.

“I don’t think this will be the end of Wy­ch­wood.” said Dent. “This is a case of one cou­ple who will not pay their condo fees, ex­cept they fund a shared road and pond, not a stair­case.”

Al­though Dent is con­fi­dent that Wy­ch­wood Park’s fu­ture is not se­ri­ously threat­ened by the court’s judg­ment, he is con­cerned that the re­peated ref­er­ences to the park’s sta­tus as a pri­vate neigh­bour­hood be­lie its true na­ture.

“We would never want to stop peo­ple from strolling through and en­joy­ing our grounds and ar­chi­tec­ture,” he said, “They are some­thing we are happy to share.”

The pri­vate ten­nis court in Wy­ch­wood Park can only be used by res­i­dents who help pay for its main­te­nance

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