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City orders man to tear down $30k treehouse

Image courtesy of John Alpeza, Facebook.

Image courtesy of John Alpeza, Facebook.

Daksha Rangan
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 10:22 AM - In a world dominated by the technology, warm weather is no longer enough of an incentive to get children to play outside.

This is one reason why John Alpeza built an elaborate backyard treehouse for his children, but the City of Toronto has demanded that he take it down due to zoning bylaw violations.

The boat-style treehouse measures 108 square feet, and is equipped with swing ropes, retractable windows, four different entrances, an eating area, a hammock, and plenty of seating space.

Crafted with cedar -- the ideal material for building boats for water -- the play space is embellished with boat-like features such as a hull, ship's wheel, and an anchor. The entire project cost Alpeza $30,000.

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The issue with the treehouse all comes down to location. Alpeza's design sits on the branches of a dead tree in his Bloor West Village backyard, the CBC reports.

Alpeza, president of Alpeza General Contracting Inc., told the CBC that he did not have a building permit when he began the construction process. He filed paperwork in the fall of 2015, but he was rejected from three different city departments.

Now, the city is threatening to charge the father of two and get a court order to remove the treehouse -- but Alpeza told the CBC that he has no plans to tear it down.

"It's nice to give the kids their own space, let them make their own little world. Imagination is so important. They can use that to play, instead of video games again," he tells the CBC. "They have a great time."

Despite it's innovative design, Alpeza's boat-treehouse disrupted the space of his neighbour. Frustrated with the size of the treehouse, Kate Lawson took matters to the city.

"I feel that it's overly large, is what I think. That's why I brought it to the city's attention," Lawson told the CBC's Joshua Errett.

The publication notes that Lawson has only seen Alpeza's children, ages eight and 10, playing in the treehouse a handful of times. Lawson is reportedly glad the city is asking Alpeza to take it down.

"I think that's what should happen. Why does the city have bylaws if people can build whatever they want? They shouldn't be able to do that."

Alpeza told the CBC that he finished his project roughly a year ago, after dedicating more than three years to its completion.

TELL US: Should this family be allowed to keep their boat-treehouse? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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