Richmond Hill residents left wondering about mystery sign for days

·3 min read

Residents of a home in Richmond Hill awoke recently to find a large two-wheeled trailer parked on their front lawn, equipped with a large digital screen that displayed messages to passing motorists. How it got there and who asked for it remained a mystery for days.

"I saw this big giant thing and I don't know what it is," said Leila Ohadi. She said it appeared overnight — with no explanation or warning. "I thought they can't just put it here without telling us. At first I thought it was a joke."

The electronic sign on a trailer is parked in front of her house on Driscoll Road taking up about a third of their lawn. It flashes the speed of passing motorists reminding them of the speed limit.

Her father Bijan Ohadi said they first tried to contact the City of Richmond Hill then the police — but each referred him to the other.

"Without any notice or permission — we wondered whose device is this really?"

MIchael Rich/CBC
MIchael Rich/CBC

No one responded to email or returned calls

The Ohadis said for days no one responded to their email or returned their calls.

But a spokesperson did get back to CBC Toronto.

"In response to resident concerns about speeding in the neighbourhood, the city placed a temporary trailer-mounted radar board on city-owned property on Driscoll Road earlier this week," Lynn Chan, communications advisor wrote in an email to CBC News.

"These signs act as a traffic calming measure, educational tool for drivers and allow the city to collect data to inform if further efforts are required to increase safety on that street."

'You are at the mercy of the municipality,' lawyer says

John Mascarin, a lawyer who specializes in local government and municipal law, said while the trailer-mounted radar board may appear to be on private property, the city actually owns the land a few metres either side of the roadway in a municipality.

"So really you are at the mercy of the municipality," he said. "The municipality doesn't have to give any notice, ask permission or give forewarning, but it would probably be common sense for the municipality to do that in order to preclude a lot of upset residents."

Michael Rich/CBC
Michael Rich/CBC

'We need some respect,' resident says

That lack of courtesy is what upsets the Ohadis.

"We need some respect. You think they would tell us. If we want to have a party, we would talk to our neighbours and ask. Why wouldn't they just ask us? Public safety, I'm okay with that. My concern is why they didn't inform us? Just a notification," Ohadi said.

Chan said the temporary trailer-mounted radar boards capture and display the speed of vehicles travelling along the street; and to "ensure accurate data collection, it is not usual practice to notify residents."

She said the boards are rotated throughout the city, usually in two-week periods, and the board in question is scheduled to be moved to a different location on August 17.