Featured Story The Passing Show

Aren’t there property standards for land bordering Hwy 401?

Norris McDonald
Written by Norris McDonald

Years ago, when I was renting a house in midtown Toronto, the landlord and I got our wires crossed. I thought he was going to cut the lawn and he thought I would do it. As a result, the grass was a foot high.

One day, a guy knocked on my door. He was from the city, property standards dept., and he suggested I cut the grass. I said it wasn’t my job and he said I should make it my job or else he would send up a crew and they would cut it and I would get a bill in the mail.

So I cut the grass.

I was thinking of that little incident last Friday as I drove east on Hwy 401 toward Kingston and a visit with my daughter and her family. Just past the off-on ramp to Colborne, which is about half way, is a long, straight stretch of road. The Ontario farmland scenery is pleasant viewing and very easy on the eyes indeed. And then you see it. A slum.

Think of two words, “junk” and “yard,” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Somebody owns a strip of land out there that goes almost to the edge of the highway. Last Friday, that land was littered by two wrecked travel trailers, a couple of abandoned vehicles, several old boats and assorted pieces of junk like tires and (for all I know) a couple of old washing machines. I never have time to take either a photograph or an inventory, because I’m usually going 100 km/h-plus at that point, but it is an eyesore.

I think the property is in Northumberland County and I bet they have a property standards department. Somebody should go see whoever owns that place and tell them to clean it up or else the municipality will do it and send the owner a bill in the mail.

To read the rest of the column, published in the Toronto Star on July 19, 2020, please click here.