Several auto sales businesses along Kingston and Galloway roads are furious with the city’s enforcement of the Kingston Road improvement initiative.
City officials have been studying the area for six years and developed bylaws to improve the area’s streetscape and increase the property value of local businesses.
The city warned business owners last August to ensure none of their merchandise is on city property. Within the past few months, city officials have gone back to ensure compliance with the property bylaws, according to Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie.
The recent source of contention between the auto business owners and the city are white spray-painted lines between private property and city land.
One business said a city official came in during the second week of March, insisting its vehicles were on city property.
“He just stormed in unannounced, pointing frantically at the cars outside—I didn’t even have a chance to get my coat or find the correct person to deal with the situation,” said Kelly Beardsworth at the Loan Arranger. “I ran outside and had no choice but to stand between the car and the tow truck.”
Her father, Loan Arranger owner Frank Bozz, has run the auto sales business since 1984.
“I’m not opposed to the betterment of the community. But they’re infringing on my rights to enjoy my property freely and peacefully without harassment from anyone,” said Bozz.
Other businesses on the strip, including J.C. Auto Service and Atlantic Autoclinic, said they felt intimidated by the way city officials performed their bylaw checks.
Managers argued with officials about the white line and no vehicles were towed.
Councillor Ainslie said zoning bylaws were introduced a few years ago to make it more attractive for developers to purchase small businesses since the city can’t afford to buy them. The bylaws increased the density allowance on property to make it more valuable.
“Some property owners say city staff are harassing them when in fact it’s our right to tow their car if it’s on our property,” Ainslie said. “We could just show up and cut their fence down without explaining because their fence on our land would be trespassing,”
Transportation right-of-way supervisor Bob Taylor said the area’s auto business owners obey the bylaws and don’t let their vehicles trespass over the white spray-painted lines that mark city property.
The city is resurveying the area to establish the lines of ownership. The city would like the area to develop the same commercial and residential intensity as Queen St. at the Beaches.
“I wouldn’t mind if the small businesses were bought by developers because they could build condos and stores in the area,” said Mark Vu, a 21-year-old resident. “There could be a cool place to do some shopping nearby,” .
The Kingston Road streetscape improvement is to be discussed at the March 26 community council meeting.