Resident told by city she’s responsible for clearing damaged trees in ‘unassumed laneway’ behind her property


A woman in the Glen Cairn is looking for more answers after wreckage from a storm left a laneway behind her property in disarray.

Jean MacDonald, 62, told CTV News on Thursday that the City of London has deemed her responsible for removing the broken trees and debris from the laneway behind her property, caused by a storm.

MacDonald said after a storm hit on the May long weekend she came home to find her broken fence, fallen trees, and debris at the end of her property.

“I’m very confused as to who owns it. Who is responsible for it? she said. “People haven’t even come to assess the situation.”

A homeowner is frustrated after learning she and her neighbors are responsible for clearing the trees and debris that fell in a nearby laneway following a storm. (Courtesy: Jean MacDonald)

A homeowner is frustrated after learning she and her neighbors are responsible for clearing the trees and debris that fell in a nearby laneway following a storm. (Courtesy: Jean MacDonald)MacDonald said she has reached out to the city several times, including city councilor Michael Van Holst who personally offered to help remove the tree.

“It was so gracious of him and I was overwhelmed by his offer, but it’s not his responsibility,” MacDonald said. “What if he were to get hurt?”

City employees have told her the damage lying within the alley is inaccessible.

According to Van Holst, the laneway is ‘unassumed’ meaning it’s the resident’s responsibility.

A homeowner is frustrated after learning she and her neighbors are responsible for clearing the trees and debris that fell in a nearby laneway following a storm. (Courtesy: Jean MacDonald)

A homeowner is frustrated after learning she and her neighbors are responsible for clearing the trees and debris that fell in a nearby laneway following a storm. (Courtesy: Jean MacDonald)“It poses a problem because it’s not a property that the city looks after. Basically, it’s owned collectively by the residents,” Van Holst said.

A possible solution for an assumed laneway is, “when it’s not being used, residents can split it up and each takes a portion and accumulate it that way,” said the councilor.

However, there are legal fees that residents would have to incur to set that up.

“I don’t own this land,” MacDonald said. “I don’t understand why I or my neighbors should be responsible.”

In a statement to CTV News London, the city said:

“The City does not actively maintain unassumed laneways. In many cases, this is because we aren’t able to access them with the equipment that would be required to maintain them.”

With the severity of the recent storm, staff will re-evaluate if access is possible and contact the homeowner.”

A homeowner is frustrated after learning she and her neighbors are responsible for clearing the trees and debris that fell in a nearby laneway following a storm. (Courtesy: Jean MacDonald)A homeowner is frustrated after learning she and her neighbors are responsible for clearing the trees and debris that fell in a nearby laneway following a storm. (Courtesy: Jean MacDonald)

Shown is the damage that was left in an unassumed laneway which is at the end of Jean MacDonald’s property in Glen Cairn, Ont. on Thursday, June 16, 2022. She has been told by the city that they are not responsible for the cleanup. (Jennifer Basa/CTV News London)


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