Mercer Botanic Gardens is no longer for me.
For the past two years, the gardens in the northwest suburb of Richmond, a staple of the Maple Leafs family, has been the subject of multiple court cases and a lengthy legal battle with a tenant.
Now, a group of concerned residents is seeking a permanent ban on the gardens, which have become an emblem of the team’s past.
“They are a symbol of the Leafs organization,” said one of the plaintiffs, Michael McEwen, a longtime Maple Leaf fan who moved to Richmond in 2012 to be near his family.
“The Leafs are synonymous with a lot of things in Richmond, and the gardens are one of them.”
In July, a judge denied a request to remove the gardens from the city’s parks list, saying the owner failed to meet a number of legal requirements for a permanent injunction.
The city has now issued an emergency ordinance requiring that the gardens be removed by Oct. 31.
The owner, Paul Maclay, has argued that the city can only issue a permanent order if it has “reasonable grounds” to believe that a future event will bring public safety or “serious public health risks.”
If the owner does not remove the garden by then, it will remain in the parks list.
Maclay’s lawyers have not yet filed a response.
If the city does not enforce the ordinance, the owners’ case will be heard in September.
McEwan said he will remain at the Garden for the foreseeable future, but he has decided to leave his personal collection of Leafs memorabilia and other Leafs memorables behind.
He will be donating the items to a local charity and donating the proceeds to the Richmond Public Library, where he will be helping to maintain a collection of books and other memorabilia.
He is also taking legal action to remove his name from the Garden’s permanent list, he said.
In a statement, the city said it would be reviewing the court ruling to determine whether the Garden has a valid claim under the Public Land Use Act.
Maclean Gardens is one of four Gardens in the city that are not allowed to be used by the Leafs, the only one of which is the former Maple Leafs headquarters.
Other teams such as the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens are permitted to use the Gardens, and both the Maple Leaf and the Kings have played at the facility since its inception.