A Toronto father who built a $30,000 boat-shaped treehouse for his children was denied a stay of execution from the city and will see his labour of love torn down.
John Alpeza had his request denied at the Etobicoke-York Committee of Adjustment Thursday, after the family was hoping for exemptions from bylaws that found the tree house to be too tall and large for their property.
“It’s a very, very sad day for kids and families — and for people who want to do something special for their family and kids,” Alpeza said.
The city-appointed panel voted unanimously against granting all seven variances related to the size and positioning of the tree house the family was seeking.
The structure is 2.09 metres above the permitted limit, “While the lot coverage variance of 17.05 per cent greatly exceeds the permitted five per cent,” according to a letter sent by Ward 13 (Parkdale–High Park) Councillor Sarah Doucette.
“I’m so sad because my father worked so hard,” eight-year old Mateas Alpeza said.
The family said they plan on continuing the fight, which began in April when they were notified that their structure ran afoul of city bylaws.
“We’re not going to give up on our tree house and this is for all kids; that they have the right to get out and get away from video games,” said John Alpeza. “That’s the whole purpose behind this.”
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has been a staunch supporter of the family since the tree house first made national news several months ago.
“I would say to those who are objecting to children playing, ‘Get a life,’” he told Global News.
Mammoliti said he saw this as a dispute between two neighbours that the city should not have gotten involved in. He also noted the family has one final avenue of appeal: The Ontario Municipal Board.
“That’s going to cost them a ton of money,” he said.
Doucette initially opposed the structure, but then suggested a compromise; lowering the tree house to meet height requirements in exchange for overlooking the lot coverage issue.
But turning a tree house into a fort wouldn’t be the same for the Alpeza kids.