Weedbusters! Judge overturns abusive fines

By Beryl Wajsman on June 18, 2009

Remember our story on business owner Chris Karidogiannis who received an unwelcome present from the city last year? He, and dozens of other Park Ave. merchants  were served with $260 fines for not trimming weeds around city-owned trees in front of their businesses. The fine, in Chris’ case, was  retroactive to the time when Karidogiannis had asked the city to do something about the weeds..

Chris said at the time that, “I’m really surprised because, for one thing...at the corn roast in September [to collect funds for the Greece wildfires] , my father had the foresight to actually take pictures with the meter next to the weeds, they were past the meter,” he said. “And he spoke to the city, and the [Plateau/Mont Royal] borough councillor Eleni Fakotakis, and he asked why the city is not doing anything, they’re not trimming the weeds this year or anything.”

Neither the city nor Fakotakis responded to enquiries that Karidogiannis or his father made in regards to the weeds. “Nothing was done and we didn’t get any response from the city until four months later we get this fine.” 

Well, the reason they got no response were new by-laws that put the onus on merchants in Montreal to be responsible for the public part of sidewalks in front of their businesses. This despite the fact that Montreal has the highest property taxes (and business taxes charged within them) in North America. Apparently the tens of thousands of blue collar workers we have are not enough. The City has decided to double tax merchants and owners and draft them into the sanitation corps. Well Chris and his fellow merchants decided to fight back. And last week they won . 

On Friday May 29 Municipal Court judge Dominique Joly ruled in favor of Park avenue merchants and Chris and his brother Vasilios were victorious.Though the judge did not comment on the appropriateness of the City abdicating its public works functions, she threw out the fines on a number of grounds.

Judge Joly found it suspicious that the fines were issued four months after calls from merchants to have them tended went unheeded and unanswered. She criticized the borough and city councillors ignorance of the by law itself. She said their actions were irresponsible.She also citied the city inconsistent behavior since the summer before it had sent its maintenance people to tend the public trees and grass. She said that the inconsistency led to confusion among citizens and that there had been a general failure to inform. She also found it curious that all the trees on Park Ave had the same problem but the ticketing seemed to be targeted. Judge Joly also found it puzzling that the councilor for the area did not appear in court even after a supboena had been issued.

Chris Karidogiannias was the leader, together with Jimmy Zoubris, of the coalition that saved the name of Park Ave. from being changed. They felt it was a clap in the face of the local population. It was the one-time that City Hall backed down to popular opposition. Chris, his brother and Jimmy, were so incensed at the latest outrage of weed tickets that they are thinking of starting a new citizens movement paralleling a new municipal political party that may field candidates in the upcoming election.


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