Elderly Toronto couple no longer required to mow traffic island, mayor says
An elderly couple in Toronto is relieved after the city’s mayor said they will not be required to maintain a patch of grass on an island that they say doesn’t belong to them.
Ten years ago, the city extended the curb outside Remo and Lina Michelini’s corner lot, where they have lived for more than 50 years. It was extended as a strategy to slow traffic, a kind of traffic calming “island,” adding a large patch of grass across the sidewalk in front of the home near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue West.
Every year since then the Michelinis — he 91 and she 88 — have called the city to ask that they mow the patch of grass for them. And they did, until this year.
Last week, the couple received an official letter citing city bylaws and saying that the couple were now responsible for cutting the grass, which is referred to as “your property” in the notice.
After the Michelinis’ complained to their city councilor about the letter and didn’t get a response, they went public with their story on CTV Toronto.
On Monday, Mayor John Tory said that he had informed his staff that if they didn’t cut the grass by noon, he would go to the couple’s home and do it himself.
“I certainly left word this morning with my officials -- who I think try their best with these things -- that I wanted that grass cut immediately and I don’t want 91-year-old people to be harassed about this kind of thing.”
In the meantime, Geoff Whitlock from Custodia Seniors Support showed up and cut the grass for free.
“It’s just not right,” he said. “They’re older and things change and nobody told them. Now they’re stuck.”
The letter the couple received stated: “You are required to cut and maintain the yard areas so that the grass and weeds are not in excess of 20 centimetres (8 inches) in height.”
It said that if they didn’t comply, they could face an inspection and be in violation of city bylaws.
The Michelinis have lived in their home since 1965 when they were both in their 30s.
“They built it, they can take care (of it),” Lina Michelinis said. “It’s not my property.”
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Scott Lightfoot