By the bylaw department’s Monday morning deadline, Cory and Lisa Cosgrove had taken down the boards that the neighbour – whom they won’t identify in the interest of suburban peace – had reported.
Meanwhile, they earned an avalanche of support from Canadians, coast to coast.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Cory Cosgrove said, noting that good wishes, retweets and interview requests have come from as far away as Calgary and Cape Breton. “We haven’t spoken with anyone who’s not supporting our venture.”
“The positive is just people supporting us and wanting to support the rink,” Lisa Cosgrove said. “We’ve been honest about it being on city property and we’re just looking for a way to come to an agreement (to) keep the rink, maybe make it a bit more eye appealing for our neighbour, and keep the peace.”
The Cosgroves have built the rink for five years without complaints, but this year they added boards to get an early start to the skating season for daughters Sydney, 9, Emma, 8, and Molly, 4, and their pals. Without boards, the family can’t get started on their sloping corner lot until December or January.
“It’s strictly for fun,” Cory Cosgrove said. “I grew up playing hockey. I spent my day and nights at the outdoor rink.
“I have three daughters who are lucky enough to enjoy the same sport as I have, so I put in a lot of time to get this rink going so they and their friends can play, get better and have some fun and have a good old Canadian-style winter.”
Bylaw officers first arrived saying there’d been a complaint Nov. 19 and gave the couple 10 days to take the boards down, Cory Cosgrove said. But on Nov. 28, they got an extension without an explanation, until getting a Monday deadline late last week.
The city’s bylaw and regulatory services department received the complaint about the rink five weeks ago and say they’ve been “working closely” with the owners since.
“(Bylaw) recognizes the significance of the game of hockey in our community, and does not wish to prevent children from enjoying outdoor activities,” according to a statement attributed to director Roger Chapman.
“The rink may remain in use, however (Bylaw) requested that the rink be moved closer to the house and for the boards to be removed. The homeowners have complied and at this time the matter is considered closed.”
With the boards, the rink was in violation of the city’s roads bylaw, which protects the city-owned land along streets with the concern that the stakes used to erect the boards could damage infrastructure or utility lines.
It was also in violation of zoning bylaws, which prevent structures from being constructed in the corner side or front yard.
Finally, the department worried about the “possible impediment of sight lines” for drivers on the quiet street, “and the proximity of the ice surface to the road, where a passerby could potentially be struck by a puck.”
Now, the Cosgroves are hoping some cold, snowy weather will allow them to bank snow around the rink, which, to them, is a staple of Canadian life.
“For someone to say it’s an eyesore, I think that’s really their opinion,” Cory Cosgrove said, adding that a rink covered with kids having fun is a joy to see, ugly boards or not.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We’re just trying to keep something that we think is lovely for our kids to enjoy.”
Even the mayor had laced up for a shift in the shinny spat, tweeting Sunday night that he has asked senior staff to review the case.
“What can be wrong with playing hockey in your own backyard?” Watson asked, saying that he hoped to get more details to solve the “so-called problem.”