By Mike Anderson

What happens when a small town denies a big city mayor a building permit?

Well, we’re about to find out, because that’s what’s happening along the tony stretch of Lake Dr. N. know as Eastbourne.

When Toronto Mayor John Tory and his wife Barbara Hackett purchased their cottage estate near Eastbourne Golf Club, in 2001, the property included waterfront access to a small dock and a boathouse with a roof-top deck offering spectacular sunset views of Lake Simcoe.

But, after twenty years, like many other indirect Lake Dr. property owners, they noticed the dock and boathouse were beginning to show their age.

So last fall, they removed the old dock and built an impressive new one.

However, according to the Town, the couple may have built the dock without a permit, as there is no record of 2020 applications for such work.

The Town doesn’t require permits for docks unless they are built over land and are more than 2 ft. above ground, so it’s not clear if a permit was needed in this case.

The old dock and boathouse
New dock

Nevertheless, this April, Tory and Hackett did apply for a building permit to build their new boathouse.

But the couple were in for a surprise.

Although the design was already approved by the Town’s building department, they were denied a permit.

The Post asked the Town to comment. But a spokesperson responded the Town “does not provide comment on particulars of permit applications.”

The Post also asked Hackett to comment, but she declined.

However, a source, with knowledge of the matter, told The Post that the permit was put on hold because of ongoing litigation over the Town’s refusal to issue building permits to indirect Lake Dr. property owners.

The Town’s current policy is if you can’t prove you own the waterfront, then it’s probably owned by the Town. And that means, no permit.

Tory and Hackett, as long as they can prove they own their waterfront, hope to eventually get their permit.

But, clearly, they won’t get a green light from the Town for this year’s boating season.

This is not the first time that Tory and Hackett have run into a problem with the Town over their cottage property.

When the couple applied for a minor variance in 2018 that would allow them to build a new two-story detached garage with two washrooms, the Town’s committee of adjustment approved the variance — even though recent committee decisions had not allowed washrooms within a detached garage.

But there was a caveat. The committee refused to allow the inclusion of a kitchen, so the building could not be used as a dwelling, and, it further stipulated, the garage could not be used for overnight accommodation.

This must have caused Hackett, who ran her own design and build firm, Stratheden Homes, for more than 20 years, to blow a gasket.

Now, Tory and Hackett can’t build their new boathouse this summer.

Word is that the couple have hired a lawyer to help move the proceedings along. After all, what good is a boathouse in the wintertime?

The bigger question is should Tory and Hackett be granted a building permit for a boathouse built on land they may not own, while other indirect Lake Dr. property owners are being denied permits to replace their aging docks and boathouses?

On the other hand, if the couple can prove they own their waterfront, why is the Town holding up their permit?

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