Saturday, October 30, 2010

Garbage In ..... Garbage Out ....

Thursday was garbage day in my back lane. It has been now for a few months. This morning was no different. At 7:30am I heard the garbage truck stop at my dumpster. I looked out the window, and sure enough my dumpster was getting emptied. The hydrolic arm connected to the dumpster and pulled it up toward the truck, dumping its contents into the large BFI truck.
At 9:00am I heard the noise of the garbage truck in the back lane. This time when I looked out the window I saw the BFI truck at the neighbours dumpster. What took so long to go from my dumpster over to the neighbours? Well, as long as the dumpsters get emptied. I went about my business.
About fifteen minutes later I heard the scraping of metal in the back lane. I looked outside again and saw garbage coming out of the BFI truck. I could not believe my eyes. Garbage was actually being thrown out of the BFI truck. I went outside to get a better look at what was going on. Sure enough, someone was inside the BFI truck, scraping what sounded like a shovel, along the inside of the truck, and throwing garbage out. The garbage was landing in and around the dumpster in the back lane. I was shocked at what I was seeing. I was getting madder and madder, thinking the BFI guys were now throwing garbage out of the trucks into the lanes of the North End. I was thinking, what next. Honestly, this has got to be just too much.
But as I was getting ready to go inside and call 311 to report this absolute absurd issue of garbage being emptied into my lane from a BFI truck, I heard someone talk over the radio from the truck. They said it was a little early for this to be happening to the truck. The workers were shovelling garbage out of the truck, then trying the hydrolics on the side to see if the arm would extend to pick up a dumpster. Then they would shovel more garbage out.
So, I guess they were not just throwing garbage into the lane. The workers were trying to get the hydrolics working. They tried for another fifteen or twenty minutes, then left. An hour later another BFI truck came and finished the job.
And yes, all the garbage that they dumped on the ground was cleaned up.
I guess I shouldn't be so quick to think the worst of these guys. And I did get a laugh in the end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shot Gun Heard .... And I Called 911

I heard a shot gun this afternoon. It rang out loud and clear. And it was close.
Prior to this last weekend, I would not have called the police unless I heard several shots. But I tell you, I called this time, and I called right away.
The police called back very shortly after for further information. They also let me know there were several police cars in the area looking. Not only that, but they dropped by to talk to us in person. They let us know again that they were being vigilent.
Whether it was the same person as the weekend, or someone else, I cannot speak to that. But I truely believe we will catch this lunatic. If we all work together, talking to the police when we see something, and the police on high alert, we will catch this person.
This is OUR neighbourhood. See a crime, make a call, take a stand. We are all in this together.

Monday, October 25, 2010

We Need To Take Back Our Neighbourhoods

My street was quiet this last weekend. Neighbours were out raking leaves and doing last minute work on the roof. My husband and I went for a walk down the back alleys on one of our garbage patrols. We found a few bicycles, and a set of twelve esspresso cups. You know what they say, one mans garbage is another mans treasure.
My street was probably typical for streets in the North End over the weekend. But there were three streets in the North End that were not so calm. One was Stella, another Dufferin, and the third was Boyd Ave. Two men are dead and one 13 year old girl is still in hospital. On Saturday evening, someone bicycled to three different locations in the North End and shot three people. The police do not know, or are not saying, the reason why. There is no mention if these incidents were related. But I, on my street, want this sort of activity to stop. The big question is "How do we get it to stop?".
People in the North End are afraid to speak out. They are afraid to tell the Police what they saw. They are afraid of retaliation. But as long as we live in fear, the criminals win. As long as we keep quiet, the violence will continue.
I am as guilty as the next person for keeping quiet. Two doors down from me, in the rooming house, a new tenant moved in a few weeks ago. I saw the young individual, along with a few juvenille individuals bicycling over to my back fence. They stopped, and looked over the fence. Then they went back to their house, and climbed on the first story roof of their rooming house to get a better look at the contents of my back yard. They bicycled past the yard a few more times trying to look over the fence as they went past. The whole time they were doing this, I was watching from my upstairs window. If I was in a different part of the city I may have called out to them to tell them to get lost. But not here. If I did, I know windows would break, or worse. I could call the Police and report the actions, but what would they do? Would they come by and take a statement and visit the young individuals? Then what? Would my windows break again? What if these young people have guns? I chose to stay quiet. I chose to be afraid of what these young kids might do.
I often hear gun shots when I am at home. I very rarely ever call the Police when I hear a gun shot. What am I going to tell them. There was a loud noise, sounding like a gun shot. No, I do not know where it came from. It sounded close though. No, I rarely call the Police when I hear a gun shot. I remember earlier this week I was walking over to the Shoppers Drug Mart at Main and Redwood. As I crossed the parking lot toward the door of the Shoppers, there was a gun shot. I looked around me to see if anyone reacted to the noise. There were people walking along the sidewalk on Main Street. There was someone coming out of the Shoppers. There was a group of people sitting outside the Robins Donuts, and a few people walking in the parking lot. Nobody seemed to notice. Nobody turned a head. And I did not miss a step as I entered the Drug Store.
Most of the people in the North End are hard working, friendly people. Most of the people in the North End are not gang members, and are not selling drugs. And most of the people in the North End, I am sure, just want to live their lives in the homes they rent and the homes they own. So, how do we get back to feeling safe enough to speak out?
We all know at least a few bad houses on our street or in our neighbourhood. We need to start paying attention to these bad houses. We need to start talking about what is going on. We need to start reporting what is going on. And if we don't want anyone to know who we are, we need an anonymous way of reporting issues, large and small. We need a place to report issues we see that are not crimes. We need to report excess garbage in the yards, broken windows, loud parties. We need to report By-Law infractions on the bad houses, even if the issues seem small. As the reports pile up on individual houses, actions can be taken against the landlords and/or the tenants.
We need to get involved with our neighbourhood residents associations. I have recently joined my residents association and found others who share the same issues as me. I have found that being a part of a residents association, one does not feel alone in dealing with these issues. As a part of your local residents association you can help develop better safety measures, or assist in carrying them out. You can be an anonymous voice in a safe environment. If you need help in finding information on your association send me an email.
We need to clean up the bad houses.
We need to hold landlords accountable for renting to gang members.
We need to take back our neighbourhoods.