Controversy erupts as residents of pricey enclave clash over locked gate

Some residents of midtown Toronto’s South Hill neighbourhood are up in arms over a padlocked gateway on Clarendon Crescent that they say denies them access to a long-beloved walking and jogging route.

In April 2022, Ward 12 (Toronto—St. Paul) residents were surprised to find that the normally open entrance to Clarendon Crescent at Poplar Plains Road was locked shut with signage posted that warned against trespassing, according to a local media report.

The gate, it turns out, was locked by Clarendon Crescent homeowners who say their street is private and that locking it is a matter of public safety. But other locals argue the leafy enclave should remain open to the public. They also question the street’s private status.

“We’ve used this for 40 years. Why, suddenly, do they think that they can block it now?” local resident Edward Anderson, 77, who has created a website in his fight against the decision, told the Star.

According to the city, the street, which is still accessible at one end via Clarendon Avenue, is, in fact, private property. (The crescent is not viewable on Google Maps’ Street View, although all the other surrounding neighbourhood roads are.) While the city handles garbage collection on the street, Clarendon Crescent homeowners — who have cited litter, aggressive dogs, and vandalism as reasons for the closure — are on the hook financially for upkeep such as snow removal and tree trimming.

“We kept it open for a long time, but there are so many more people living in this neighbourhood now, walking with their dogs,” one woman, who opted for anonymity for fear of reprisal, told the Star. “They don’t clean up and sometimes use profane language. We got tired of that. And it was dangerous.”

Nonetheless, Ward 12 Coun. Josh Matlow has publicly denounced the decision to keep the gate closed.

“I think it’s sad and shameful that a property owner has decided to block access to community residents,” Matlow told the Star. However, he suggested, his hands are tied. “This is an anomaly in the city of Toronto, where the street itself is private property.”

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