Back to Maria St.
Nov 11, 1965; Newspapers: The Globe and Mail
pg. 6 By Scott Young
There wasn’t much public notice on Oct. 27 when Toronto City Council finally passed the bylaw required to expropriate Benny Stark’s scrapyard at 118-122 Maria St. Alderman Mary Temple
apparently thought no one had noticed. This must have made her feel like the Light Brigade getting to the other end of the Valley of Death and then learning that the press bu had been five miles away, with a flat tire.
This expropriation is a victory for her and for a little band of lady vigilantes who are Stark’s neighbors on Maria St. By Tuesday Mrs. Temple could stand the silence no longer, so she sent me a copy of the Stark expropriation bylaw with her compliments.
Well, I’d been going to call Benny Stark on the matter anyway. There were great promises made in City Council last spring that he would be helped to find alternative accommodation, including some made in person by Mrs. Temple. I asked Mr. Stark whether there had been any success in this line. The short answer is: not yet. But the expropriation is going ahead anyway. The city has no urgent use for the land, it is a legal business, it is a family’s support, but Benny Stark somehow has to go and that is that.
To clear one point in advance, the Stark Iron Metal Co. is no rose garden. But it was there, operating, when some of the complaining neighbors moved in. There are thousands of other legal non-conforming uses in the city.
I asked Mr. Stark how things had been going. He told me a story that illustrates perfectly the kind of Gilbert and Sullivan life he has been leading.
“Did you hear a few weeks ago about me ordering an alderman off my place?” he asked.
I hadn’t. “Well,” he said, “one Saturday morning when I was very busy, Ben Grys came in.” Mr Grys is the junior alderman in Ward Seven. “He parked his station wagon in my driveway, with the rear of it across the sidewalk and into the street. He too me and look pointed to a fence and said, “Look Ben, that fence is falling over.” I said, “Ben, that fence is not falling over. It was built that way on the plans okayed by the city.”
We were talking back and forth about how I had built that fence myself so the neighbor there wouldn’t have to see my scrapyard, when all of a sudden there was a lot of screaming and uproar in front, and one of my neighbors came yelling. “You. Stark and Mr. Grys, come and see what happen here.” She was pointing at the sidewalk. There was a crabapple on the sidewalk, from a tree above. She yell at me, “It is your fault, because a truck have to come up on the sidewalk to get by, and dirty up my sidewalk which I just sweep.”
“Which truck?” I ask.
“That one right there!” she say, and point to a brewery truck, making a delivery. Now, it have to go on the sidewalk to get around the end of Ben Grys’s station wagon, and being a high truck it hit the crabapple tree and knock one down. I try to ask, how come I am responsible for a brewery truck knocking down a crabapple to get around an alderman’s car, but threats were made to hit me or kill me. Because of this, I call police – the first time I have ever called police. The police come, and when I tell them what happened, Ben Gryus interrupt and say, “No, no, no. Ben is not decent to these people, he is the one making all the trouble.” And I say, “If I am not decent, get off my property.” And he say he had a right to stay, because of complaints, but the police tell him I own the property and if I say go, he should go, so he go.”
End of sample joy of running a legal scrapyard on Maria St. in opposition to Toronto City Council. Negotiations will begin Friday on price for the expropriation. Real Estate Commissioner David Alexander said yesterday that he sill hopes a place can be found for Mr. Stark to do business.
“I have always found him co-operative,” Mr. Alexander said, “He really wants to get out.” No wonder.