By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 3, 2014
District of Squamish threatened a downtown resident with a $1,000 a day fine, forcing him to remove three planters he had planted on district property in an attempt to beautifying the downtown neighbourhood.
“All I was trying to do was to beautify the area and make it attractive for locals and visitors who use our trail.”
Mike DiTommaso bought a home on the tail end of Cleveland Ave, just across from the Nexen Beach Trail head.
He did extensive renovations and moved in this January, but the newly renovated house stood in sharp contrast to the street outside: A pot-holed road and a barren sliver of land.
DiTommaso took matters in his own hands. Who, he thought, could object to flowers? He bought three planters and put them right across from his home, close to the Nexen Beach trail access.
His plan was to fill them with tall sunflowers; he even planned on submitting a proposal for Squamish Gardeners 2014 garden tour. People walking on the trail started commending him for the beautification efforts.
But the whole scene looked far less beautiful to bylaw officers, who told him the planters were illegal and obstructed the access to drain and weed control.
They bylaw officer was curt and left with an ominous warning: Remove the planters or face a $1,000 fine per day. The planters have since been removed, but a disappointed DiTommaso wants the district to show some heart and allow them back.
He says there is ample access and the planters pose no challenge to cleaning the ditch.
Without the planters, cars will park there and will be unable to exit safely and pose a threat to the pedestrians and the pets, he said.
“All I was trying to do was to beautify the area and make it attractive for locals and visitors who use our trail,” he added.
Since the threat of a fine, he has placed them inside the property line and now waits for councillors to support him.
The bylaw officers suggested he could seek a street use permit but also said it’s highly unlikely it would be granted based on future grading requirement and the ability to manage knotweed.
Coun. Bryan Raiser said he supports the community initiative to beautify the community. He said he was disappointed to know they were forcibly removed, but would be able to comment when he knows the other side of the story.
Coun. Ted Prior said the staff should offer some soil for the planters and work with Mike DiTommaso.
“The district must learn to be part of the community and not create us and them,” he said.