School board weighs options with laneway to nowhere

It’s a road to nowhere, actually just half, and it happens to be the half that’s crumbling.

But apparently, someone is looking to buy it.

Currently, the only use of the laneway is to provide parking at the rear of the three homes at 211, 209, and 207 Lee Ave.

But for reasons that are unclear, the Toronto District School Board owns a three-foot sliver of the lane along its northern edge.

While the three homeowners have a right of way, they do not own it, nor the hefty cost to repair it. The retaining wall on the laneway’s north side is crumbling away.

“You take over the property, and right away you have to spend $30,000 or $40,000,” said Bob Cameron, who lives at 207 Lee.

After they offered the laneway for free to the homeowners, the TDSB has now declared the laneway surplus property. According to protocol, other school boards and provincial agencies will first get a chance to bid on the property before it goes on the open market.

Local school trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher said a real estate agent has expressed interest in it, but a better solution would still be for the homeowners to take it over.

“If they’re not going to take it over, there’s going to be a time when it’s going to cost them money. It’s costing us money now,” she said.

“I am speechless when I come to think of why they just don’t take it and run,” she added.

“They’ll improve the value of their property enormously, they’ll have control over it, they’ll never have to think about it again, and all they have to do is pay legal fees and then fix the driveway.”

If it cannot sell the property, Cary-Meagher said the TDSB may consider removing the fence at the east end of the laneway to create access to the Beaches Recreation Centre and Glen Ames Public School.

“We could punch a hole in the fence and have it as a walkway to the back of the Rec Centre,” she said.

Cameron, who has lived on Lee Ave. for 39 years, said he and his neighbours have been leaning towards buying the lane since the Toronto Star ran a story about it in January.

Given the cold winter, the cracking in the retaining wall has also gotten worse, he said.

Already, Cameron said the rutted lane wreaks havoc on his daughter’s Prius when she visits at Christmas, nor was it kind to his old ’75 Jag.

“We really don’t want to go through another winter like this one because it could crumble at any time,” he said, noting that both of his neighbours have young children so it may be a safety issue.

While it looks like a costly fix, and one he didn’t bank on because the laneway was simply listed as a right of way with no owner on his original property deed, Cameron doesn’t like to think of the alternative – street parking in the Beach.

“Most people don’t have laneways or anything,” he said. “I guess that’s worth spending money for.”

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