Talk about a snow job.
When commercial contractor Gino Riccio watched his surveillance video earlier this month, he saw snow removal crews hired by the city dumping excess snow from the streets and sidewalks into his small parking lot on Dufferin Avenue, leaving his customers with no parking.
"A neighbour actually tipped me off to the situation," the business owner said Tuesday.
Riccio pays for a private contractor to clear the small parking lot (he shares the 10-stall space with Black Pearl Coffee) over the winter and expects any extra snow from a nightly clearing to fill up one of his stalls.
But when he saw the mountain of snow take up nearly all five of his spots after crews cleared the lot one night (Feb. 13), he started to get curious. Fortunately, a neighbour told him what was going on and that’s when Riccio reviewed the video.
In the footage, Riccio’s snow removal company pulls out of the area as the heavy front-end loaders pass the entrance of the lot. Soon after, a large front-end loader enters the lot and dumps a load of snow. Then another one does. And then another.
All told, six big loads of extra snow were dumped in his lot.
"It was right after our guy had left, like 45 seconds later," Riccio said, adding that based on the tape, he suspected that the crews were waiting for the private contractor to leave. "Now I’m curious how many times have they done this? Has this been going on all winter?"
Riccio phoned the city’s 311 information line on Feb. 14 to register a complaint. A city official came by Tuesday morning to inspect the situation and look at the video. According to Riccio, the city employee was hoping to locate any distinguishable markings on the snow removal equipment so the contractor can be correctly identified. Riccio said the city hoped to remove the snow last night, freeing up his parking spots again.
With the wheels apparently already in motion, a city spokeswoman issued the following statement on the matter:
"The City believes this is an isolated incident. We are taking it very seriously and will be investigating and will be taking whatever action is appropriate to rectify the situation."
Riccio called the matter "unfortunate" and said he hoped the matter would be resolved quickly after his initial call to the city took place. But he needs those parking spots, and couldn’t wait any longer before finally saying something.
"I didn’t want to make a big deal about this, but I didn’t hear from the city for 10 days so I figured something has got to get done," he said. "It’s coming out of my pocket."