Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A 30-year old garden that I can only describe as a labour of love is in danger of being razed by the municipality of Mississauga (a suburb that wishes it was Toronto but not nearly as hip) because of a single complaint by a neighbour.

After not enforcing a bylaw for 30 years the city is apparently now moving forward and informed Carmela and Frank Loconte, a retired couple who own the adjacent property and have maintained the city owned plot since 1979, to prepare for the worst. The garden will be bulldozed and replaced with grass due to the impact their perennial wonderland has on sight lines which apparently constitute a clear and present danger. This despite city workers saying as recently as last week that the garden was fine. Mississauga should be careful however, as Frank is a retired lawyer.

This isn't the first time we have seen similar complaints. While this case revolves around a city owned plot of land we have seen other stories where property owners who were concerned with the environment have replaced boring turf lawns with perennial wildgrasses or natural indigenous plantings that disrupt some suburbanites concept of a "proper" frontage. Despite it being more a concern about aesthetics the complaints usually revolve around visibility concerns since these gardens clearly grow higher then turf grass. We all know most bureaucrats are so keen on behaving like big brother when it comes to safety issues it only makes sense that folks opposed to environmentally sound landscaping use this tactic.

Details can be found on the Mississauga News website.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


A sstudy out of Britian has determined that how well neighbours know and are willing to support each other has an impact on the development of thier children. Neighbourhoods with higher so-called "collective efficacy" (social networks that pursue a common purpose) have a corresponding decrease in anti-social behavior among children who live in the neighbourhood.


A woman is Scottburg, New Zealand is literally a prisoner in her own home after a neighbour built a concrete wall in front of her driveway. Unfortunately the story does not go into details of property lines, right of way, etc. but the picture of this poor old lady says it all.

Brenda Hayle has owned her home, and used this same driveway to enter and exit the property for 25 years. She has appealed to the city but like most civic bureaucracies they are useless. As far as her neighbour goes, she must be on a different planet because she claims she has done nothing wrong. WTF?


I've heard lots of horror stories over the years about renovations turning neighbours against each other. I am happy to say that over the last month I have lived through one and never really had anything I could complain about on this blog.

Our next door neighbours are nearing the end of a major kitchen renovation that involved knocking out a wall and building an addition to their house. I can honestly say that the work never started too early, or extended late into the evening. The contractors were polite and professional, the debris was cleaned up nightly, etc. Other then being without phone/internet for 24 hours when they accidentally hit a buried cable the entire process has been painless.

Turns out they actually did "call before you dig" and the utility folks that came out only marked out one set of gas lines/sewage pipes, etc. Who would have thought my phone line would go out a few feet from my house, under my neighbours driveway, and then turn towards the junction box? The sign was a joke more then being upset. I stole his wireless signal for the night and warned him I would do it.

I have a great relationship with all my neighbours, and I would joke with them constantly about how I was calling in the inspector or just lodged a complaint with the city. It definately helps to have the kind of relationship where you can do something like that. In the end it is all about openness and communication. I remember that they shared with us their plans every step of the way so nothing would be a suprise.

Have you lived through a painless neighbour renovation? Or not? Share your story by sending it to me at ca1v1n@hotmail.com

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Two weeks, I know I know. Far too long to have not posted anything. Lets just leave it at that and move along. Going to get back into the swing of things I hope. Lots going on. Once again working like a dog (multiple big launches coming up at the day job and some travel over the last few weeks and next week) and just way too tired to feel creative or inspired enough to write anything.

Which is silly of course, since writing/creating is like crack. You start and you can't stop. My trouble is just starting. I guess a better analogy would be exercise, except I can't image starting that. Best to stick to the crack.

Just got back from a trip to Toronto. We were in town for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, a yearly thing that the wife and I do. She worked at a couple big name galleries for many years before devoting herself full-time to not cleaning my house and watching Oprah. As you may or may not be aware the city of Toronto is in the middle of a municipal worker strike, and one of the things not happening right now is garbage collection.

I lived in Toronto back in 2002 the last time this happened and let me tell you this time the difference is like night and day. Sure there are some overflowing trash bins around, but for the most part the city was "normal". The local business associations in each neighbourhood have really stepped up and are doing lots of clean up themselves or hiring private contractors. The residents are showing far more civic pride as well. The last strike everybody just seemed to toss their garbage everywhere, but most residential areas are quite tidy.

It helps that Toronto has done a lot to divert waste over the last few years. Green bin recycling and backyard composters are far more prevalent now then they were 6 years ago. I also think it helps that very few folks support the union demands (especially in this economic climate) and they recognize that making a mess of the city only strengthens the unions bargaining position. The best thing to do is keep live as close to normal as possible as long as possible.

I won't get into the details of the strike, you can google it.

The art show was awesome, as it always is, and I attempted to do some shopping. I did manage to find a pair of Clark's sandals but could not find a pair of Simple sneakers. I drank lots of beer at a Patio in Kensington market and ate the best duck & noodle soup in the world at a little place on Spadina. All in all it was good times.

Neighbour news coming up soon I promise.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A.B. from Pennsylvania writes:

I would like to share my story. My husband and I and our 2 kids rented a home in the Upper Bucks County area of Pennsylvania in August 2008. What we moved next door to was the antithesis of the anti-Christ. My husband is a cement mason in a Philadelphia Local Union. I am a part time HR rep for a company. We work hard. In 2006 my husband got a DUI. It was a strain on the family, but we worked through it. He was on probation. The last time we had to go to court for a hearing, we saw our next door neighbor at the hearing. Turns out she is a probation officer for Bucks County and has the reputation of an over the top, all out bitch.

I don't know if she couldn't get into law school or the FBI but apparently she is extremely bitter and likes that feeling of belittling the small guy. She looked at my husband and I and concluded that we were not worthy of living next door to her. A few days later, my husband spoke to her husband because of a situation that happened the previous night. My husband was smoking a cigarette and saw our neighbor's bike on the sidewalk. He went over picked up the bike and was bring it up to the garage when my neighbor's husband came out. My husband explained that he was bringing the bike up and introduced himself, and my neighbour's husband, who is a prison guard at Bucks County Dept. of Corrections said, "Yeah, I know you". Apparently, he thinks that he is some sort of hard ass. What a joke. More like the Pillsbury dough boy. He is a glorified baby sitter, that gets paid to sit on his ass and yell at some poor souls that have lost their way in life. I mean who sits there as a young boy and thinks, "One day I am going to be a prison guard and help the world". I am thinking that he must be hung like a light switch and suffers from some sort of complex. I often hear him yelling through the walls at his kids.

After speaking to my husband about this, we decide it would be a good idea to clear the air. The next day my husband rings the door bell and asks to speak to him regarding the previous evening. My husband also was bringing him a bag of Thomas the Tank Engine toys that my son had out grown playing with and I had promised to them before we had the falling out. I figured that I was living here and I liked the house, I didn't want to be best friends but I also didn't want to be shunned either. They spoke about my husbands run in with the law and the neighbours admitted that both him and his wife "looked him up" and they knew all about him. My husband tried to explain that we were good people, we took care of our house, we didn't have wild parties, that were were just your ordinary family that worked hard and for the most part kept to ourselves. My husband also asked that they not share the DUI with the other neighbors because we didn't want the parents in this snotty ass development to judge our kids on actions that my husband did.

They ended up telling everybody, and now people turned their backs on us as soon as we come out the door. All of the cordial waves and the morning greetings came to an abrupt stop. My husband had lost his drivers license with the DUI and they knew it. He told my husband that apparently she saw him driving (which wasn't the case). Apparently, the think they are the "Super Twins" over there and that they are going to "rid the world of all the evil doers". The conversation ended and my husband came home.

We have 2 small children. They made friends here, even with the little girl next door. I gave her drinks and treats within reason, that sort of thing. One day this little girl came in our house and was playing upstairs in my daughters room. When she was seen by her parents, through the open window, she was swiftly told to come home. This girl was grounded for a week for being in my home. Like my husband was some sort of child rapist or robbed someone a gun point. He got a freakin' DUI for Christ sake!!!!

The winter went on and she was apparently telling his probation officer that he was driving. Again, which was not the case. My husband's work is seasonal. When it is 30 degrees or below or raining or snowing, he doesn't work. She also was telling the local police. We then found out she had made a poster made of him and posted in the local police department. It gave a description of my car and him, said he had a DUI and his drivers license was under suspension and if seen driving to pull him over. This is the lengths she will go to are boundless.

She wants to to move and not buy this house. Which, in the beginning, was the plan. She even had the balls to tell my landlord that it would be unethical and unmoral to sell us this house. She then told the landlord that other neighbors would be calling her in protest us buying the house. So that is why, I HATE MY NEIGHBORS!! If anyone has any words of wisdom or thinks I could sue them for harassment or knows a good attorney that handles this type of matter please let me know.