Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Boarded Buildings, By-Laws and Bodies

Nothing like a little alliteration to make a catchy title.

By-laws. I think we need more of them. Maybe a by-law making useless by-law inspectors a violation? Maybe one where a citizen can take a by-law inspector and give him a bit of a verbal barrage for being somewhat lackadaisical insofar as his/her job goes?

Consider the following house. Located in a fairly visible area (Sherbrook Street), one would believe that this vacant dwelling with illegal boarding would be ripe for an inspector to create some sort of "order". Nope... there it sits. The back yard is worse, with parking being provided for people, perhaps from the block next door, perhaps for HSC. Who cares?... it's just the West End.

Since this place is SO obvious, one might think the inspectors drove down side streets as they comb the neighbourhood, seeking out boulevards with grass over 6" long... like maybe Simcoe Street?

Nope. I don't think any inspectors make it there either. Neither do they watch the news. Remember that house where the body was found in the back yard? Over grown with weeds and hiding Shawn Lamb's handiwork, the place was on all the news channels. Need a refresher? Here's a RECENT pic, plus a few of the yard. Let's play ,"Spot the infractions"!

You can name the obvious by-law transgressions, and maybe (for extra points) figure out which by-law the offense is listed in. (Similar to "Whose line is it anyway", the points don't matter, I choose the winner as I see fit). There are so many violations here I can scarcely list them all myself. Recently, the lawn was mowed and the fence (lying on it's side in the pic) was removed from the yard, but that's about it.

Wondering why? Me too. Apparently it's a complaint driven process. I guess that means that if a $65K a year By-law officer drives by, there's nothing he (she) can do about it.

The West End would like to join together to thank By-Law enforcement department for their fine work.

 A house on the news, a crime scene that should be an embarrassment to their department goes unnoticed... for two months AFTER the fact. How long did it sit like that before every news team was at the site and the Cadets and Police staked out the area protecting the "evidence" for days? Lawn unkempt, ripe for a body toss? I dunno. I don't keep track. It's not MY job.

You wonder. What is it these folks get paid to do? There's the boulevard cutting thing... and?

                   My lovely wife made a complaint. She called about an old dresser, mattress, a tent and other junk littering the neighbours back yard. months later, she used the reference number 311 had given her to follow up. The inspector responsible told her, "The file is closed".
"Really?", she asked, "How can that be, all the junk is still there?"
"I was there and I didn't see anything unreasonable, but I'll go by again."
He got back to her a few days later.
"As long as they can justify needing the items, there's nothing I can do."
"How can anyone justify a rotting mattress and an old dresser missing drawers in their backyard?"

You get the idea of how that whole situation played out. The inspector did absolutely nothing.

There is STILL a rotting mattress, leaning up next to the house, ready for some punk to spray a little lighter fluid on it, torching it, the soffits and attic of the house, my fence...

Again, the inspector did his job. He opened a file, went out, inspected, (likely from the window of his car), went back to the office, and closed the file.

Good job. You'll likely get promoted.

                    Another was asked to do something about the incessant problems with pigeons nesting and raising squabs in the overhang of a neighbouring house. "Oh... I'm not sure there's anything we can do about pigeons."

Really? How about the soffits where the birds are nesting? I'm pretty sure there's a by-law somewhere about that sort of thing, let alone the vermin.

I have a hunch the inspectors know the owner. Now I'd never suggest anything untoward is going on, but the way some places are purposefully left with no action whatsoever makes one start to wonder. Not in a "Why?" sort of way, rather in a "Hmmmm" sort of way.

Still looking at Shawm Lamb's dumping ground? Special huh? I think I heard that the Public Trustee is involved in the property. Could it be there is some sort of preferential treatment for Government agencies... that unwritten,"give a brother a break" mentality?

We wouldn't want to make work for another level of civil servant, would we? Adding by-law infractions and Boarded Building Permits to the work load of those poor guys over there... our union brothers...

I can't for the life of me figure it out.

Harvey lives on this block, and his claim is always, "You know why I know what's going on in my area? I walk, I don't drive, I walk the streets."

Apparently not his own block, or his lane, at least not in the direction of Notre Dame.

I get the idea that there is a lot of work to be done in Winnipeg's older, established areas, but we've seen our property taxes skyrocket with the new assessment. Houses here are starting to creep to $200k, with $150k buying you junk that still needs a lot of elbow grease.

While other areas of Winnipeg supplemented the West End for a number of years, we're now likely paying more than our share.

Do you think we could get a little effort out of the guys charged with enforcing the by-laws? Maybe walk a block a day? The West End Biz does... they take notes, and know where the problem spots are.

Since 311 doesn't' actually compile a "complaint by address" count, they're no good at pointing out the "broken window". (If you're unfamiliar with the theory, )
 Any chance the By-Law department can at least nail some plywood over it? Maybe like this...

 All doors, windows and other openings, other than the principal entrance, at the basement and main (first) floor levels must be covered in compliance with this Part with a solid piece of plywood at least 11mm thick and secured with coated spikes at least 75mm in length, spaced not more than 150mm on center.

It seems to me that this department is better at telling someone what to do than actually doing much of anything really useful.

"TO BE (afraid), OR NOT TO BE (afraid)?!"

That's not really the question. The real question is, "Am I afraid, or just "cautious""? Maybe I'm "smart".

Doubt it.

Last night before retiring to bed, my wife inserted her ear plugs. I don't snore, nor do I babble incessantly while I sleep. There is a lot of "white noise" with all the windows open. I can usually tolerate it. Sirens, screeching tires... they are products of living in the city. Any city.

Black noise. Now that's a matter entirely different. Last night a shirtless clown was BRAVEly walking down the street talking far too loud to his "buddy" at three o'clock. A little later, some female was SQUAWking about something or other, f-bombing away. Finally they two, which was 4, met up and had a (whadda' ya call those circle meetings?) where they continued their far too loud banter.

I looked out the window and saw them. I thought about saying,"Excuse me, can you keep it down?", but didn't.

Why didn't I? Had it been some older guy (imagine an elderly man with a walking cane) I certainly would have, but we have a proliferation of young, fairly stupid, fearless people in the city, who really don't care about MY well being, and certainly don't value their own station in life to any degree. My home could instantly become a target, culminating in some sort of action on my part. "Could I ward off the circle meeting gang with a 2x4?". Probably not. Do I really feel the need to replace the sound glass in my windows? No. "Do I need to replace the boards on my fence?" Probably not.

So... am I afraid?


It's a fine line. I wish I was brave enough to say, “I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the  North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is,” but I'm not.

I suppose that makes me afraid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Knock off cell phone bust

Watching the news on CKY this evening, I was a little confused by the story about a raid by RCMP on three cell phone repair shops.
Their crime? Not using original parts. Knock offs made in China.
Line Karpish said these firms weren't "authorized" to do the repairs. What? I buy an Apple I phone and Line Karpish and her group gets to tell me who can repair it?


The RCMP are now able to tell me who can repair my phone? The RCMP can tell me what type of parts I can use on my phone? What else can the RCMP do?

I love this quote, "Karpish said Apple and BlackBerry do not permit even authorized dealers to repair their products on site and do not ship them repair parts.
“That’s a red flag for the public – if someone says they can repair it in-house for you, you’re getting a counterfeit part, most likely,” said Karpish"

Let's say I broke my screen (it's believable... Ive' broken at least three of them) and I was able to get someone to repair it for... $75. Telus, Rogers of MTS won't fix it, HTC, Blackberry, or whoever made it want me to ship it to them and spend more money than the phone is worth. What to do?

THROW THE PHONE AWAY! Apparently using non "factory authorized parts" doesn't sit well with the national police force.

I love this country. The RCMP...the red serge... horses...those ever appealing riding breeches... imagine them coming in and raiding a local body shop.

Let's listen in.

"Everyone back away from the counter! This is a raid!"
"What? What do you want?"
"We're the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and we've received a tip that you're putting knock off parts on customers cars and calling them repaired. We're going to shut you down!"
"Well... ya. MPI won't cover the cost of REAL parts from GM, so we have to buy them from off shore suppliers. The metal is thinner, they don't fit as well, the primer is questionable, but it's all they'll pay for on an older car. They'll only put new parts on a new car that has less than 20,000km. "
"Stop making excuses. You're ripping your customers off. We're taking all your inventory. HEY... What's THIS? USED PARTS?!!"
"Ya. MPI makes us sign into a salvage search site to secure salvaged parts if they are available."
"That's enough! turn around... hands behind your back"

So Line, I'll be waiting to read about your next big raid, and then I want to get some cash back from MPI... it seems they've broken your rules.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to hide my ear buds I plug into my iPod. They're some crap I got at CBit after ripping the wire out of my original ones... and I KNOW they're not Apple products.