04/20/2016 11:23 EDT

Boat Treehouse: Toronto Dad Might Not Have To Tear Down $30,000 Structure

"Imagination is so important."

John Alpeza/Facebook

UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory indicated John Alpeza might not have to tear down an elaborate treehouse.

Tory has asked city staff to take another look at the matter because he doesn't want the city "looking like we're soreheads and party-poopers."

"I think what we should do is make sure that what is not going on here is overly zealous bureaucrats simply responding because somebody phoned them," Tory said during a press conference, reports the CBC.

Apparently, steps can be taken so that the treehouse is in compliance with city regulations and discussions are ongoing between Alpeza and city officials.

After six years and $30,000, a Toronto dad has been ordered to tear down the treehouse of dreams he built for his two sons.

"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," John Alpeza explained to CBC as to why he built the structure in the first place. He wanted to give his kids and their friends something to do other than being on screens.

The elaborate structure has expanded over the years and now looks like a whimsical ship with ropes, ladders, a deck and windows -- even a library. Now one neighbour's complaint could destroy it all.

Alpeza is a contractor, but not for residences, and didn't realize he needed a permit to build a treehouse. When the city informed him that a neighbour three doors down, Karen Lawson, had complained about the structure six months ago, Alpeza submitted detailed drawings in order to get that permit.

However, he was informed this week that his request was denied and the structure must come down.

"All of a sudden, when it's really, really nice, it's a problem," Alpeza told CBC News. "I don't understand why somebody would complain a year later, after I try to make this thing really something special, not just a box with a plywood roof."

Lawson told CBC she has only seen Alpeza's boys, who are now eight and 10, play in the structure a few times and says that kids want to go to the park, not be in the backyard.

Alpeza doesn't plan on taking anything down and wants an exception to be made. "This isn't about a treehouse, it's about the right of a family to enjoy their backyard... to put the kids first," Alpeza told CBC's Metro Morning on Wednesday.

Does he have a chance? Toronto mayor John Tory's tweet on the matter doesn't provide much hope.


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