Sometimes, the boss has to get involved to resolve a problem, even something as simple as cutting a patch of grass.

The Toronto Star reported yesterday on a city order to 91-year-old Remo Michelini and his 88-year-old wife, Lina, to cut the grass within seven days on a traffic calming island in front of their Lauder Ave. home.

After The Star’s column about the city’s order to an elderly couple to cut the long grass on a traffic calming island in front of their Lauder Ave. home, Mayor John Tory personally interceded, telling city staff to cut it immediately. (JACK LAKEY)

The city had sporadically cut it since the island was installed about 10 years ago, but decided this spring that the Michelinis had to do it, even threatening to send them a notice of bylaw violation if they didn’t.

That caught the attention of an incredible number of readers — more than 100,000 had clicked on the column by Monday afternoon on thestar.com — including Mayor John Tory, who was unhappy about it, to put it mildly.

Tory told reporters during a Tuesday morning scrum that “I hear about these things and they just cause me to shake my head,” adding that when he reads about it early in the day, “I honestly want to go back to sleep.

“The bottom line is I left word this morning with my officials, I want that grass cut immediately and I don’t want 91-year-old people to be harassed. It’s just not the kind of city I want to be leader of.

“Just cut the grass.”

At some point, city officials who had been on the pointy end of repeated notes from the Michelini’s son, J.P., asking them to cut the grass regularly, decided to put the screws to them.

They determined that the traffic island amounted to a boulevard, as defined by a city bylaw, and said in an April 30 “courtesy notice” that homeowners are required to maintain the boulevard in front of their houses.

In letters dated June 5 to Remo and Lina, the city referred to it as the Michelinis’ property, adding they had seven days to cut it or face legal action, including a notice of violation.

Tory told the Star in a phone interview that he couldn’t quite believe what he had read, and that it defied common sense to decide the Michelinis were responsible for cutting it, after the city had done it for so long.

The mayor said he personally called Lina Michelini on Monday to confirm the grass had been cut by city staff, adding he apologized for the situation.

“I told her that if the grass hadn’t been cut, I’d be out there myself to do it,” he said.

He added the city should cut it on an ongoing basis, before the grass and weeds are knee-deep. He noted that no streets in that area have boulevards, and that it is unfair to impose grass-cutting requirements on a homeowner that don’t apply to anyone else in their neighbourhood.

Thank God for common sense, and a mayor who has some.

Source: The Toronto Star