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.

1 comment:

  1. Ooooooh! I want to play!! Since I would win by default anyway I'll skip listing them all. I feel your pain. When I see a post like this (which since I'm reading it like 3 weeks after it was posted, tells me I need to catch up on local blogs!) I feel as though I should have a drink in your honour.

    It's a shame that the system is as flawed as it is, being complaint driven perhaps makes sense in areas where there are not many complaints in the first place; however, in areas in need of significant improvement it doesn't make sense.

    Instead, community groups do the work that should belong to these officers and track down the violations. I have often found that I need to quote the specific section of the by-law that is being violated in order to see something rectified. Community organizations do not have the time or the payrolls to follow up on each and every complaint - nor should they have to. The amount of times I've been told either a bulky waste pickup, grass complaint or other violation has been "closed" when I know darn well nothing has changed is nothing short of infuriating. My favourite is when 311 suggests that it's a different mattress/couch/etc - I've driven by it every day for the last 10 days, I don't think it's a different one, but thanks.

    Hmmm, maybe I need to go do a shot for myself as well...