Saturday, November 27, 2010

City Politics 101

My street is a lot quieter now. Winter has set in, and the outside world has calmed. Even the people who seemed frightening a few weeks ago, are just parka clad folks out shovelling their walks. The yards are all covered with that clean blanket of snow, and traffic has slowed, be it pedestrian, bicycle, or motor vehicle.
Walking down the lanes and front streets is now more difficult, and I will be conducting my walks with less frequency. As with everyone, I will turn to more indoor activities to get me through the winter months.
Since starting this blog, I have read many By-Laws and legal acts, posting their links as I find them. I have been educating myself on subjects I once considered irrelevant and unnecessary to bother with. But in order to ensure the rights of my block are upheld, it has become necessary for me to familiarize myself with the legalese of the City.
In my quest for knowlege I have also found schedules and minutes for the various meetings held at City Hall ( And I have even gotten myself on one of the committees. A few weeks prior to the Speak Up on Garbage Expo at the convention center, I received a phone call. I was invitied to attend a meeting at City Hall for the Stakeholders Advisory Committee to the Garbage Master Plan. I am now a citizen member of that Committee.
While browsing the City of Winnipeg website, I have found which committees discuss derelict buildings, what has been happening at the latest Lord Selkirk - West Kildonan Community Committee meeting, and the Winnipeg Committee for Safety minutes. It seems these meetings at City Hall are public. That means anyone may attend them. During the winter months, I am going to start attending some of these meetings, starting with the Winnipeg Committee for Safety on Dec 10.
I was never interested in Politics before. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Freedom Of Information Act Versus By-Law Dept Unable To Obtain License Info

Back in August, I made a report to 311 regarding the illegal dumping of construction material into the dumpster behind my residence. I sent a photograph, showing the white half ton truck, the Manitoba License plate number, and the individual doing the illegal dumping. I also provided a photo of the lumber, metal, and door that the individual deposited in the dumpster.
I explained that the individual was asked if they lived in the area, and if they were aware that it was illegal to dump the construction material in the dumpster. I also said the dumpster was for residents of the area, which he said he was not. And I also told the individual that I took a photo and would be submitting it to the By-Law department and he would be fined for performing the illegal dumping of the construction material. I gave him the opportunity to remove the items from the dumpster, but the individual declined the offer, and said I should clean up my back lane. The individual said I should be happy that he was at least cleaning up.
So, I sent the information to 311. They in turn forwarded it to the By-Law department for investigation. A week later the By-Law department said they could not proceed further, as they did not have access to the MPI database to get the information on the owner of the vehicle. They said it was because of the Privacy Act.
Now today I happened to be reading through the Privacy Act, or rather, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In it, I noticed a section that would allow information to be provided if it was needed for law enforcement.
Division 3
Mandatory Exceptions To Disclosure
Privacy of a Third party
Disclosure harmful to a third party's privacy
17(1) The head of a public body shall refuse to disclose personal information to an applicant if the disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of a third party's privacy.
Disclosures deemed to be an unreasonable invasion of privacy
17(2) A disclosure of personal information about a third party is deemed to be an unreasonable invasion of the third party's privacy if
(a) the personal information is personal health information;
(b) the personal information was compiled and is identifiable as part of an investigation into a possible violation of a law, except to the extent that disclosure is necessary to prosecute the violation or continue the investigation;
As far as I can see 17(2) (b) should give the By-Law people the right to request this needed information. There should be no reason that the By-Law department is not allowed to gain access to information from the Manitoba Public Insurance, when requested, if they are requesting the information to "prosecute the violation or continue the investigation".
Or am I missing something?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Street Is Covered In A Clean Blanket Of Snow

I went for a walk today, on my own. This was the first time I have ventured more than a block from my home on foot alone since the shootings in October. The shootings are no longer a topic of news, and are drifting from peoples memories.
I have tried to get back to normal, but things kept happening.
A few days after the murders, there was the sound of a shot gun coming from behind my house, somewhere in the back lane, or very close. Then I watched a person steal a car, right in front of my window. And there were the other actions occurring within view of my house. Then last week I had an unfortunate encounter with a person on a bicycle. I have been looking at bicycles along the side streets of the North End in a different light since the murders. I remember the Police said the individual or individuals doing the shootings were seen traveling by bicycle.

But today, I went for a walk on my own, and I left my block.
As I left the house I noticed not one, but two McDonald's coffee cups. They were discarded on the street and on the boulevard. It seems they are always discarded right in front of my house. I guess I live exactly the distance from McDonalds that it takes to finish a cup of coffee.
The snow has covered the North End in a fresh coat of crisp, clean camouflage. The yards are all filled with clean, white snow. You can still see the boarded houses, and the paint falling off the side of a few homes. You can still see the broken windows and fences that need repairs. But with a fresh coat of snow covering everything, it somehow seems less depressing. The snow seems to even things out a bit. The neighbourhood could almost be in another part of town.
I could not see any dirt and mud filled yards. The garbage strewn around the yards is hidden under the snow. For now, the yards are clean. With a fresh lick of paint, some of the rougher looking houses would look just fine.
I walked down the front street today, which was nice. Then on my way back home I took the lane. There were a few dumpsters that were overflowing already. It is only Tuesday today and the dumpsters are likely not getting emptied until Friday this week.
The dumpsters that are overflowing are not filled with residential garbage. They are filled with construction material, lumber, and paint cans. There was a dresser that was smashed into pieces and put into one of the dumpsters. And there was a couch and a couple of mattresses behind another dumpster down the block. Another dumpster was full of broken furniture and lumber. On my block alone there are three dumpsters now overflowing with non-residential garbage. We still have several days until the dumpsters will be emptied. As residents of the lane put their garbage out, it gets stacked on top of the already existing garbage in the dumpsters. Then it blows into the lane, or gets spilled into the lane as the dumpster gets emptied.
If our dumpters were used solely for residential garbage, they would not overflow, and would not spill out into the lane. Our dumpsters would be able to hold our household waste, and be emptied into the garbage trucks at the end of the week, and our lanes would be clean.
Out front streets are looking crisp and clean, but the back lanes will again turn into garbage strewn alleys.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Same Truck, Different Day, More Garbage

I caught a quick look at a truck in my back lane this afternoon, Nov 22 1:40pm. I think it was the same truck that was dumping items in the back lane last week. This time I saw 4x4 written on the truck on the right side, just behind the rear wheel. That part of the truck was hidden by the dumpster last week.
So, does this person have nothing better to do with his or her day than to drive down my back lane and fill dumpsters?
It is winter now, so it takes me a lot longer to get outside when I see illegal dumpers. In the summer, I can grab my camera, slip my sandals on as I am running down the stairs and out the door. I can be outside and in the back lane in a matter of seconds. But not now. Now I have to make sure I have socks on. And I have to get my shoes and make sure they are on. Then I need to grab my jacket, and mitts. And I have to get my camera. And then I need to go through the yard, through the gate at the front of the house, and the one at the back lane. Hopefully, I have already shovelled the path, so my travel through the back yard is faster. And I seem to be moving more slowly in the winter than I was in the summer. The thought of scrambling to the back lane is far less appealing when I know I have not shovelled the back yard path.
Today, I did not see the truck until it was starting to drive down the lane. But I could see there was still garbage sticking out of the back of the truck. I knew it would be dumping into another of the dumpsters in my back lane. I could have caught the person, if it was summer. But not today.
I found a pair of socks, located my shoes, grabbed my camera, then I had to go back upstairs and get my mitts. By this time, I was sure I was not going to find anyone still in the lane. But I kept going. I got my snow suit on, and out I went.

This time, there was a pallet, some carpet, and a fence post in one dumpster. In the next dumpster down the lane there was another fence post, and several large cardboard boxes. It seems this person has been replacing a fence. And they got rid of the boxes for a 10'x10' canvas canopy.

I will continue to take pictures of items that are illegally dumped in my back lane.
And I will continue, even through the winter, to try and get photos of the vehicles and people who are doing the dumping.
Last week, I went down to the By-Law department on Main Street. I made a statement regarding the illegal dumping of garbage in the dumpster behind my residence back in August. While I was making a statement, I was told that there has never been a single fine levied against an individual for the illegal dumping of garbage in the North End. I, myself, find this hard to believe. I find it hard to believe that there would be a law on the books that has never been enforced, or rather, a law on the books that is written in a way so that it cannot be enforced.
Back in August, when I first made the report of illegal dumping, I was told the By-Law department could not proceed with the case. They did not have access to the MPI database to find out who the owner of the vehicle was. Even though I provided a photo containing the White Dodge 1/2 ton, the Manitoba License plate, and the person doing the dumping, I did not provide enough information for the criminal to be located.
A few weeks ago, I was told that the By-Law people were able to obtain the information from MPI regarding the owner of the truck doing the dumping. But, the obtaining of that same information was a one time thing. The By-Laws department still does not have access to the MPI database to locate vehicle information on any other complaint they get. How wrong is that!
I was told that if the By-Laws officer goes to the resident of the vehicle owner, and it turns out that it is not the same person as the one in the photo, the By-Law people can go no further. How wrong is that!
I was told that many people who do go to court simply say they were dumping garbage for their friend, who lives on the street they were dumping. Well, don't they have to prove they know a person on that street, and doesn't that person have to prove they are truely a resident of the street? No? How wrong is that!
How can the illegal dumping of garbage be such a problem in the North End of Winnipeg, and still, there has not been a single fine given to a single individual committing the crimes?
How is it that the North End continues to be a dumping ground for the rest of Winnipeg, and nobody is doing anything about it?
Well, no more.
I will fight this.
I will continue to fight this.
And I will win.
The people who are throwing their garbage in my neighbourhood will be fined.
I will see to it.
I will fight to have the By-Laws corrected.
And I will fight every case where I can identify a person or vehicle dumping their garbage in my neighbourhood.
I did not move to the Brady Landfill when I came to the North End, I moved to a neighbourhood.