Monday, December 12, 2011

The Roof Continues To Fall

What would you do if you saw a roof caving in on a house? What would you do if you saw an older gentleman at the house? Would you tell someone? Would you be concerned for the well being of the individual? Or would you just walk on by?
Well, I didn't just walk on by. I reported the house to the City. I took a picture of the house with the roof caving in, and I sent it to 311. That was on April 27, 2011. I wrote about this house back on July 21, including an update from the City Planning office. I was told the owner had until the end of September to tear down the back extention of the house or the City would do it themselves.
Then I did an update article on October 3, showing the roof was still falling in on itself. I guess the City Planning office did not follow through on tearing down the back extention of the house.
Yesterday I drove down the lane to find the roof is still falling in on itself. The back extention is still attached to the house. But the house is painted. At least the portions of the house that are to remain intact.

So, why is the roof still caving in? And why is the back extention still connected to the house? This issue was reported by me on April 27 of this year, and the owner had until the end of September to deal with it.
If I have my information correct, the City Planning and the By-Laws people do not have a mechanism for follow-up. They don't have a system of notification when a deadline comes due. And I guess they are busy dealing with new issues.
That means this person doesn't really have to do anything about their house. Nobody is going to check on it. Not unless some citizen contacts 311 to let them know there is something wrong.
You would think they could set up a filing system, or make a spreadsheet to notify themselves of deadlines that may come up. But why bother. The system is complaint driven, and if people don't complain, nothing gets done. Maybe I haven't complained at enough of the proper time intervals to have this issue taken care of. Or maybe there is nothing actually wrong.
More tax dollars paying more City workers, so nothing happens here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Losing The Ambulance

The North End is losing ambulance service next year. As of January, 2012, we will no longer have ambulances dispatched from the Redwood Firestation.
We lost our Police Station on Main Street already. Our closest Police Station is now on Hartford Avenue.
I wonder how long it will be before the fire station leaves the neighbourhood as well.
We have lost all of our banks.
We have lost most of our gas stations. The closest gas station on Main Street is the Shell down by Leila. Other than that, you would have to go onto Salter Street and gas up at the Shell on Mountain or the Petro Can or Esso at Selkirk.
We have pawn shops, money marts, dollar stores and social service agencies.
In the great new plan for the future of Winnipeg, is this how City Hall sees it? Is everything proceeding according to plan?
I understand the fire trucks being dispatched from Redwood Street are staffed with first responders. They are generally at a call before the ambulance arrives anyway. And not all calls require transport to a hospital. But who decided the North End shouldn't have an ambulance in house. Does the North End not make use of ambulances enough to justify having them on hand? Or are we rethinking who needs the ambulances quicker. Maybe North Enders don't need to get to the hospital as fast as residents of other neighbourhoods. Maybe those closer to Church Ave and Sheppard St pay more taxes and warrant the ambulance dispatching from their neck of the woods.
Are all the emergency services relocating to the suburbs? How about the non-emergency services? Will we lose other city services as time goes on?
I don't get it. Why pull the ambulance dispatch from the North End? Answer me that Mayor Katz.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Friday Night In District 3

It must have been a quiet night in district 3 last Friday. That was the night six police cars converged on my front street. What would cause that many police to show up on one street at one time? Was it a gun threat? Or a domestic disturbance? Or were they having a meeting outside my house? I saw they dropped in on one house on the street. But I saw nothing more.
In checking the crime stat map on our WPS website, I found it was a very slow night. There were only 5 items posted for that night, all break & enter and robberies.
I checked the news releases sent to my email address. Nothing was mentioned about my street. In fact, there were zero news releases for Friday related to the District 3 area. The only news release for the city at all for Friday was a Firearm Investigation (Nov 25, 2011 11:30pm C11-246277). The police "executed a warrant at a hotel suite within the 1700 block of Wellington Avenue".
It seems that Friday night was a slow night for crime fighters in our city. Nothing happening in the North End, and nothing happening in the rest of the City either. Well, except for a hotel near the airport. That must be trouble from out of town.
If I got my information from crime stats and police reports, I would certainly think nothing was happening here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Street Filled With Police Cars

I was making supper and heard a noise outside. Just the sound of a car door. But it sounded like more than one car. Hmmm. Too busy to look. It's just a car door.
I heard more noises outside. Alright, lets have a look.
A police car was parked outside the house. There was another police car in front of it. Then another police car drove past my house as I was looking, and parked down the street. I started counting. One, two, three, four, and a ghost car. Wait a minute, there was another car down the street blocking traffic. It's lights were on. Was that police car number six?
I went downstairs, got my shoes on, and went outside. Sure enough it was a sixth police car on the street. But what was up? Some of the cars were empty, others had our men in blue inside them. Nobody was on the street. What house were they visiting? It was hard to tell because they were spread out so far down the street. If I had to guess, it would be the blue house, but I wasn't sure.
I went back into the house and back to dinner. But I kept looking out the window. Every now and then I took a peek. They I saw someone go from one of the cars into the blue house. Of course that was the house. It is a rooming house, and is nothing but trouble.
Yet again, the blue house has police attending. But to what end?
The police do not tell citizens why they attend houses on the street. It is not our concern. These things rarely show up in police reports or news clips. They don't show up on the crime stat map. They don't show up anywhere.
Another event in the night, never to be heard about. Another event to fall through the cracks into the abyss of non-information. Another police event at the blue house. And another question in the minds of those living on the street.
We are used to not knowing. We have police on the street so often. We are used to not seeing these events on the news, and not reading about them in the paper. We are used to the events not appearing in police reports or on the crime stats.
It is just another night in the North End, nothing talked about, nothing known. Just six police cars on the street. Nothing happening here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bicycles And People Explained

If you live in the 'hood, you see it all the time. You see people standing in the lane or on the front street. They wait. And they wait. Then a bicycle pulls up, and the bicycle leaves.
What just happened? A drug deal. This is how drugs are delivered in the North End. And they are delivered all the time. Sometimes one house can have several deliveries in a single day. But it happens in broad daylight and at night. It happens all the time.
This particular incident had two different people waiting for their deliveries in front of the same house, and both had drugs delivered by bicycle. The people riding the bicycles are generally kids, youth, young people.
We see these kids riding around the neighbourhood all the time. When a kid is stabbed at 2:00am in the North End while riding his bicycle, this is where our thoughts go. A kid running drugs. A kid running drugs for some gang. A kid, because they are protected by the Young Offenders Act.
Bicycles come and bicycles go. And people wait outside their houses for another delivery.
Just another day in the hood.

Bicycles And People

Male stands in wait.

Bicycle comes, bicycle goes.

Woman stands in wait.

Bicycle comes, bicycle goes.

Police come.

Another police car comes.

Officer goes to front door.

Officer directed to try back door.

Nothing happening here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Home Invasion Too Close To Home

I woke up this morning to the sound of someone trying to break into my house. After a quick check out the window, I heard my front door open.
Great!!!!! Someone was in my house.
Now what? What do you do when you know someone is downstairs, in your home?
My husband grabbed the bat and headed down the stairs, and I called the Police.
I guess we scared them off. It seems they broke in at the back of the house. They broke the PVC window, cracked the window right out of it's frame, and entered the house. The noise I made scared them out the front door. But that does not change the fact that they were in our house.
We spent half the night with the police. The helicopter had a look around. The K9 unit dropped by to check out the scene. And it doesn't change the fact that someone was in our house.
How do you shake that feeling. You know the one. The feeling that you have been violated. The feeling that someone can just break a PVC window that was locked in place and enter your house. What do you have to do to ensure you are safe in your own home? Do you have to put bars on all the windows? Is locking the doors and windows not enough to keep these assholes out of your house? What gaul! They think they can just bust into any old house they feel like! I just fixed that window from the last incident. Now I have to lay out another couple hundred to fix the window again.
And now my husband and I both have bats beside the bed. Well, he has a bat and I have an axe handle. And they are right beside the bed. His within reach on his side of the bed, and mine within reach on my side.
We aren't sleeping tonight. Not after someone was in our house.
Not after someone was in our house.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Anyone Got Marshmallows?

The siren stopped. That means something was happening pretty close by. I looked out the window and saw red lights flashing at the end of the street in the back lane. My first thought was that there was a fire again in the yard at the end of the street. There have been so many fires on my block and the surrounding area this summer, I can't even keep track anymore. I got my shoes on, and grabbed a jacket.
As I went to the side of the house I saw the lights of the fire truck directly behind my house. By the time I got to the back lane the fire was out. The fire men had extinguished a fire in the dumpster two doors down. That was the second time this summer that particular dumpster was in flames.
The neighbour who discovered the fire saw that the dumpster was up against a garage. He pushed it away from the garage with his truck and called 911.
The fire truck that arrived used a special hose, located at the front of the rig. It sprays foam and is used to extinguish dumpster fires. One of the firemen made a comment that he will be glad when the dumpsters are gone. He feels there will be less fires at that time. I am not so sure on that one. At least these fires are contained in metal dumpsters. I hate to think what the little fire bugs will light up once the dumpsters are gone. In Crescentwood they light recycle boxes, garages and misc items in peoples yards. At least we have self contained 'fire boxes' here for the little arsonists to play with.
After the fire was out, and the truck left, a utility van showed up in the lane. There was a worker in the bucket inspecting the lines in the area of the fire. The guy had a flashlight shined on the line as the driver slowly moved down the lane. I don't know if someone complained about their phone or tv being out, or if the utility company was just checking the new lines they had just strung in our lane.
We all seem to know what to do when we have a fire here. Push the dumpster out of the way, call the fire department, have them extinguish the fire, get the utility company out to check the lines. Reset, and wait for the next fire to start.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

Last night was Halloween. My husband and I spent a few evening hours handing out candy to local ghosts, monkeys, and pumpkins. The streets were not crowded with costumed kiddies, but there was a fairly steady stream. The kids were happily running and skipping down the street, collecting loot from a handful of houses. There were a lot of kids with parents, people trick or treating in packs, a group of teen age girls with a father in tow, and an older brother watching over his costumed sister.
Between the ghosts and goblins, we socialized with the neighbours. The street had a friendly and fun feel to it. It was halloween, and everyone was out to enjoy the evening.
I remember last halloween, we picked up treats to hand out and we also took treats to the Friendship Center. We were not sure how many kids would come to the house, but wanted to have something for the kids that were out trick or treating on our block. Last year, halloween came on the heels of a triple shooting that left two people dead. And last year, we were told the shootings were random, unrelated events. That is what shook us the most, that the shootings could have happened to random, untargetted individuals. It shook us because it could just as easily have been us.
This year, we had the same sort of incidents. We had two murders, another gun shot and a few stabbings the weekend before halloween. They were spread throughout the weekend and throughout the City.
We learned only recently that last years shootings had gang connections, and this morning we learn that the two homicides had gang ties, as well as the third gun shot. Further to that, most of the violent incidents happen in the wee hours of the morning.
I find it odd that so many people would bring so much fear to the event of trick or treating. This event happens in the early evening. It brings home owners to their doors and on their streets. It crowds the streets with kids and parents. No gang banger is going to try something when the streets have that many eyes.
Now that we know the random triple shooting of last year has actual gang ties to it, it becomes just another tragic story in the lives of gang members, and it takes away the threat that it could happen to the law abiding citizens of the City. I wonder how long the WPS knew about the gang ties. And I wonder why it took a full year to let us know the gang connections. And did they know about the gang connections in this last weekend's violence prior to last evenings trick or treating events? That may have eased a bit of tension in going out for an evening of fun with the little goblins.
Last night was for the kids, the ghosts and goblins, and the monkey and pumpkin that come to my door.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crime Stat vrs Police Releases

The topic of crimes being reported in Winnipeg keeps coming up. In the latest blog post from Policing, Politics and Public Policy Menno Zacharias compares crimes reported in the Police Releases to the ones listed on the CrimeStat database on the City of Winnipeg Police website. He compares the month of September, 2011 which shows 787 items listed in CrimeStat with the Police Reports that list only 10 of those crimes.
Brian Kelsey at the State of the City blog has been blogging about the safety of the downtown, and the way crimes are being reported, and not reported. He mentioned three specific crime categories that are omitted from the CrimeStat database; those being stabbings, assaults, and arsons.
Well, today I had a look at just one day, October 28, 2011. I received 4 emails Oct 28 and 1 email on Oct 29 from the Winnipeg Police Service regarding that day. They are as follows:
  • Public Advisor - 9:05am - Notice that there will be a procession going down Portage Ave protesting the CWB activities.
  • News Release - 11:05am - Halloween Safety Tips
  • News Release - 11:40am - Stabbing 2:00am (C11-226798) female robbed at Main & Stella, Commercial Robbery 2:00am (C11-226796) 400 block of Edison Ave
  • News Release - 3:05pm - Male Wanted (R11-88976) for theft and fraud investigation
  • News Release - Oct 29 11:02am - Commercial Robbert 5:00am (C11-226866) 800 block of Ellice Ave, police located male w/ gun shot wound transported to hospital in critical condition, later upgraded to stable.
When I look at the CrimeStat map for the day in question, the stabbing shows as an assault, and although gun shots are reported on CrimeStat, this gun shot is not listed.

It is possible that the gun shot icon will appear in the next few days, as the report appeared on Saturday in my email. But how do you explain police reports listing a stabbing at Main and Stella and the CrimeStat listing a non-commercial robbery? Are all stabbings down graded to show as robberies or other lesser crimes? Or does CrimeStat just feel the theft of personal property is a far more interesting statistic than the stabbing of a human being?
What is the actual purpose of the CrimeStat map on the WPS website? Is it to arm citizens with valuable information on crimes being committed throughout Winnipeg? Or is it designed to create illusions of Winnipeg as City Hall sees fit? How many crimes have been downgraded from their original Police Report listing to show as minor issues on the CrimeStat map.
I, for one, would like to know who makes the decisions on the categories listed on CrimeStat. And further to that, I want to know who decides which category icon will be used to report specific crimes.
Start listing stabbings, arsons and assaults on CrimeStat map. Lets have a look at the crimes actually happening in Winnipeg for a change. List them, or tell us why they have been excluded.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hey Look, No Crime!

I don't seem to be getting police reports in my email as often as I used to. Does that mean crime is down in Winnipeg?
This morning I got one email reporting a crime on Selkirk Ave. Apparently a female was approached, and assaulted to the upper body but managed to escape in her vehicle. But as I read through my twitter feed I noticed CJOB reporting a "rash of stabbings overnight". I guess if the Police don't report the crimes, they really don't happen. Stabbings are not listed on the Crime Stat site, and now I guess they don't get posted in the email reports. With the Police removing their radio calls from the Police scanner, they can completely erase any crime they don't want the public knowing about.
Thankyou CJOB for giving us a hint of something that happened last night.
In Winnipeg, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is in effect at City Hall, and with the selective reporting of crimes in the night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Is A Baby A Criminal?

So, when is a baby a criminal? In Winnipeg, apparently never.
A 10 yr old, known to police, was out with his little buddy, a 13 yr old. They were playing "lets rob some stores", armed with bear spray. And the 10 yr old didn't get charged. He is too young to be a criminal, so he isn't. And according to the news this was not his first offense.
So, in Winnipeg, 10 yr olds can do what they want and nothing gets done.
I heard nothing about charges to parents or any sort of consequence at all to the 10 yr old involved in these criminal activities.
Can we spank him? Or can we tell him in a stern voice that this is not acceptable behaviour? Or would that be child abuse?
I don't know, but to me there seems to be something wrong with this picture.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Interview With A Social Worker

I was asked for an interview by a social work student regarding my thoughts on the North End.
This is what I said:

I make conscious decisions on what I will and will not say in my blog, .... I generally do not comment on illegal activities taking place on my street or in my area.
My blog tells only part of the story of my street. In some ways it paints a more negative picture, because I do not talk about positive things that happen as much as I talk about the negative. And in other ways it paints a quieter and safer picture because I don’t talk about illegal or suspicious activities taking place.
I also, from time to time, make statements that are not politically correct, because I feel things need to be talked about. Nothing will ever get better if we cannot talk about it.

Are you involved with any organizations within your neighborhood?
I was involved with several organizations. I was on the Stakeholders committee for the new garbage master plan at City Hall. I was vice-chair of St Johns Residents Association. I was involved with the Neighbour to Neighbour Safety Strategy, and with the new North End United group. I have been to a Seven Oaks Sentinals meeting at Gord Mackintosh’s office, and also participated in the combined COPP walks done with Gord Mackintosh. I have also worked with Ross Eadie in my efforts to better the North End of Winnipeg.
Since September of this year, I am no longer involved with any organization as I have found the City of Winnipeg is in no way interested in making the North End a better place. The organizations seem to be in place to placate the masses, spend tax payers money, and turn community volunteers into unpaid social workers. And we seem to just keep feeding people. Events seem to always include giving food to whoever shows up. We have become another level of soup kitchens in the city.

What do you feel the biggest issue is for the North End community? 
You will consider this to be a racist comment, which is actually the biggest issue we have.
The biggest issue in the North End, in my opinion, is the promotion of victimization. As long as those who do not take care of their houses (rental or owned), those becoming intoxicated in the streets or spilling their parties into the community, those committing crimes, and those buying and selling drugs continue to buy in to the belief that they are victims, they will remain victims. And as long as those who run the social programs promote the label of victim and provide advantages to those who are calling themselves victims, the victims will remain. As soon as we start demanding that people take responsibility for themselves, and their actions, we will begin to remove the victim label, and things will start to turn around.
Right now, many people are crying victim, staying on social assistance, pulling themselves down, carrying on the alcoholic lifestyle of their parents, and contributing to criminal behaviour that is pulling the North End down, and nobody is calling them on it. They can ride the victim train the rest of their lives because anyone who questions it would be called racist. And the social services agencies give power to the victimization label, protecting the rights of those who are labeled, or label themselves as victims.
People need to be held accountable for their actions, and they need to learn to make correct decisions. They need to learn to live within Societies norms and they need to respect the laws of the land. People will never be accountable for their actions if they are given the option of being a victim.
We had an extremely intoxicated woman take a baby out of a house where she was partying. She took the baby to the front sidewalk and began smashing the babies head on the sidewalk. She would have killed the baby if not stopped by a passer by. When in court, her defense was that she was a victim. She had a bad childhood. She was recognized as a victim and given a lesser sentence. How is that really helping her, the child she attacked, or society in general?

I've read a bit about the houses falling in on themselves, and garbage that does not get collected.. what about issues of violence, or gangs?
I would have to say my street in the North End has more violent acts on it than my street in Fort Rouge when I lived there. I have seen blood trails in my lane and on my front street. I have heard people screaming in, what I can only imagine as pain. I have heard domestic disturbances all too frequently and seen intoxicated individuals driving away in vehicles. Neighbours have been assaulted. ........ items removed ...
........ items removed ...
. Last fall a youth was caught by police on my street. He had a duffle bag full of guns and ammunition. At the end of my street a 15 yr old boy was stabbed to death just a few weeks ago. He was known to the police and likely a gang member. He died the next street over. A few blocks from me a man was shot in the head and died. He apparently was killed in relation to the 15 yr old boys death. Another kid was shot in the spring. It happened at a gang house the next street over. A couple of weeks ago we had two crime scenes on the street. Two separate houses had police cars and ambulances, each taking care of a person with stab wounds. The issues were likely related. ..... items removed ....... 
So yes, I would have to say there is violence and gang activity on my street.

Do you feel that police/local government do enough to help out?
I absolutely do not feel the Police and / or the local government are doing enough. I don’t envy the Police their jobs. It can’t be easy to do the work they do. But they are not doing enough.
It is hard to say if the Police are blocked by policies and procedures from removing criminals from the streets, or if they have become too jaded to act on issues they come across. I am not privy to the inner workings of the Police department, so I cannot say how they work. But I do know I was not able to get an intoxicated individual arrested for driving while intoxicated, smashing into a fence with his vehicle while driving intoxicated, attempted break in and damaging property a few months back. I have been told of several instances where police do not charge shoplifters who are caught with over $500 in inventory, and are turned loose. I see police continually returning to the same houses over and over again, not arresting anyone. I see crimes being committed over and over with no results. ........ items removed ...
Regarding police issues, civic, provincial and federal policies and laws need to be adjusted to allow police to take care of issues and remove criminals from the streets.
Regarding the civic government, there needs to be some form of attention paid to the North End  to enforce by-laws on the books. There should be pro-active by-law enforcement to bring the area up to basic standards instead of relying on complaints only. Even when citizens report by-law infractions, issues are not looked at in a timely manor. And when illegal dumping of garbage is reported, it is ignored. The by-laws department does not investigate reports and does not prosecute illegal dumpers.
Regarding the condition of housing stock in the North End, I have been told it would cause undue hardship on home owners to expect them to bring their houses up to reasonable standards and would affect low income citizens negatively to enforce by-laws regarding the condition of their houses.

How do you feel about the "helping profession" in your neighborhood? (Social Workers, etc)
Stop empowering bad behaviour.

Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?
In all honesty, it is very unlikely that I would be harmed in my neighbourhood. I am not involved in criminal activity, I do not sell drugs or buy drugs, and I am not out on the street in the middle of the night. But is the North End as safe as Fort Rouge, no. The North End is a more dangerous area to be in.

What do you feel are strengths of your community? (in terms of parks, or organizations)
This is a difficult question to answer. We have no banks, and only few gas stations, which are all located on Salter St. Local grocery stores are too expensive to use on a regular basis. The North End is an older neighbourhood, which should mean that people are able to walk everywhere they need to in order to make their purchases. In the North End, I generally drive wherever I am going. People in my area tend to do their shopping at the drug store and dollar store, and do their banking at the money mart.
When I lived in Fort Rouge, I walked everywhere, and was able to do so without problem.
I do not feel comfortable going to the park closest to me, being St Johns Park. I find the park often has intoxicated individuals under the influence of many different addictions. It is a beautiful park, but I do not feel safe being there alone at any time of day.

I do apologize for the negative attitude I have developed. However, I feel it is important to look at the North End in comparison to other areas of the city, instead of trying to find positive things to say about the North End on it’s own. We seem to have a need to downplay the negatives and overemphasize the positives in the North End, to try and convince ourselves that it is not so bad. But in reality, there are serious issues in the North End that are not being dealt with. We simply mask them with words that say it is not so bad.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quiet Times As Fall Sets In

The neighbourhood is slowing down now. There is not as much happening on the street with the changing of the weather.  This happens every year. We look forward to fall and winter, because those are the slow months, and the quiet times. I guess it also helps that I don't do my back lane walks anymore, or very seldom anyway. My husband still does the walks, and reports from time to time on police tape seen, hookers on corners, huge piles of garbage, and recently one very persistant person looking to buy some crack.
My view of my neighbourhood now is what I see from my house, and what I hear from my yard. There are still noises, but not as much. There are people screaming and yelling all night, but not as many. And now I am just closing the window and sticking my head under my pillow. And my husband moves to a quieter room in the house to sleep. We have joined the masses who ignore the fighting.
When driving through the neighbourhood, I still find myself looking for crime scenes or police presence as I turn the corner for home. It happened so often during the summer that it is almost odd to have no police presence. I am hoping that feeling will go away soon.
Besides the odd murder, and occasional stabbing, and the gun shot yesterday, things seem to be slowing down for the winter. Let's hope things continue to slow and we have a quiet winter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Update On The House Falling In On Itself

As you may know, there is a house down the street from me that has a roof caving in on itself.
I reported this house to 311 on April 27, 2011 with a comment that I was concerned the roof may fall in on the older gentleman I believed to be living in the residence. Well, it turned out that the house was only used for storage, and the old guy had a different residence he lived in. Further, I learned that I was not the first person to report this residence for By-Law infractions. Another concerned citizen had already notified 311 of several By-Law infractions regarding the house and yard at this address.
The 311 report that I sent in on April 27 was re-directed to City Planning at the end of April, as it was an issue regarding the house structure. I spoke with a City Planning person in late July regarding the status of the issue. I was told the home owner had until the end of September to demolish the back of his house, where the roof was caving in. The city planning person said the City would be taking care of the demolition after that, if nothing was done.

Well, nothing has been done, at least not with the roof.

What I did notice, though, was that the fence has been painted.
I guess we have to be thankful for the little things.
At least the fence got painted.
The city sure has been on top of the By-Law infractions against this house, and have enforced the painting of the fence. I am so glad my tax dollars are being spent where it is really needed. Because Lord knows fresh paint on a fence is far more important than the structural integrity of a house.
Let's hear it for the City.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Politics Of An Election, Status Quo Or No

Tuesday is the day. That's when we vote in our Provincial Representative, the people who will decide our fate for the next four years or so.
I wonder how the province will vote. Will we vote in the status quo? Historically, that is the way things generally go. People are most comfortable with the way things are. But is that true today? Are we comfortable with the status quo, with the way things have been going these past 12 years? Are we comfortable with the way the NDP have handled our provincial matters? That is the real question. And if we are not pleased, what are we going to do about it? Do we vote for the same and hope for a change, or do we change the way we vote?
I, for one, am changing the way I vote this time around.
I have always been a socialist, believing the state should ensure everyone is taken care of, and that makes me an NDPer. So here I am, knowing the NDP have been in power for the last 12 years, and issues that concern me are not being taken care of. Crime in my area is out of control. And the NDP just keep adding social program after social program to the problem. I wouldn't have an issue with social programs if crime rates were going down. But they are not. It seems all these social programs are doing is educating the criminals that they just have to say they had a troubled past and they are free to commit any crime they want.
I am sick of the status quo of being so darned caring about the upbringing of murderers, and coddling criminals as they stab and murder each other and innocent by-standers.
Somebody has to have the b*lls enough to stand up and take a tougher approach to these crimes and the criminals behind them. And somebody has to take a hard look at the way we treat Young Offenders. A third of our murders this year have been committed by youths. That is an absolutely horrific statistic, and we need to take a serious look at it.
In this next election, we cannot just vote for the status quo, and we cannot just vote for social programs. We cannot expect the same leaders and the same policies to have different results just because we cast another vote. The only way to truely make change is to change what we are doing, and that means to change the way we vote.
Enough of the Status Quo of the NDP. I am ready to vote PC and vote for a different approach to crime and punishment. I never thought I would ever vote PC, but this time around, they seem to be the ones speaking my language. McFayden seems to be the only one, of any of the leaders, who is talking about crimes being committed, and our status as Murder Capital of Canada. During the televised debate he quoted stats on crimes since the election started, and crimes during the previous debate downtown. The guy is aware of, and seems to show a real concern for violent crimes being committed around us.
I am tired of hearing sirens, and seeing police. I am tired of hearing about break-ins, robberies, assaults, stabbings, shootings, and murders. I am tired of reading about our youth committing violent crimes. And I am tired of hearing that criminals committing violent acts deserve compassion. I am tired of the status quo, and I am tired of the NDP.
Call me crazy, but I am voting for a change from the status quo. I am voting against the NDP on Tuesday and I am voting PC this time around. Mr. McFadyen, you better not let me down. I expect you to take our crime issues seriously and take real measures to turn this trend around. Make our streets safe again, please.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shot In The Head Several Times

Homicide #32 has been registered in the City, and it has happened in my neighbourhood.
The news reporter just said "shot in the head several times". Oh my God. What is going on here. What the heck. The person was found lying on the ground, and someone called the police to check on the "well-being of the individual".
What is going on in this city? And what is being done to fix these issues?
What are the politicians promising about crime, and what do they actually know about it?
Selinger did a photo op with known gangsters from Heatbag Records. That is not showing any form of crime awareness. He seems more interested in photo ops than he does in identifying criminals, nevermind correcting the issues with crime in this City.
I think we need to have someone running this province who is a little more aware of their surroundings than Mr. Selinger.
I am damned sick of watching the homicide numbers going higher and higher every few days. We are averaging just shy of a homicide a week, and that is just not acceptable. It is not acceptable for me, and I highly doubt that it is acceptable to you.
Demand change, and demand it now.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dumpster Fires Galore

I just got back into town from a day trip to Dryden, Ontario.
As we were driving back home, we passed two police cars stopped at a scene on Talbot, and another cruiser coming over the Redwood Bridge. The icing on the cake was seeing another police car at the corner of our street as we were arriving home.
It turns out that they were looking for a few suspects setting garbage bins on fire. Apparently someone has been setting a rash of dumpsters on fire in the area. The police made a comment that these fires are 'out of control'. What the heck is happening.
When we were in Dryden today, we were talking to one of the locals there. He said he reads the Winnipeg Free Press, and commented about all the stabbings. He said it sounded like we had 10 stabbings a day here. I guess we are not the only people in this country who think Winnipeg is out of control. Someone 400 km to the east of us thinks Winnipeg has just gone crazy.
So, what I want to know is, when will the government catch on that things are out of control. When will the government take action to fix these issues and restore our city to a state of reasonable peace. Selinger seems so clueless that he decided to catch a photo op with local gangsters, the Heatbag Records guys. We don't need clueless politicians. We need ones who can recognize serious issues and make real plans to resolve them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two More Stabbings Just Around The Corner

We had a police presence in the area yesterday. Well actually we had two police scenes yesterday. On one street there were about four police cars, one ambulance and a fire truck. One neighbour said he thought he saw a guy with what looked like stab wounds on his body, with no shirt on. Great! That's what we need, more stabbings.
Then just around the corner from that scene a couple of police cars and an ambulance pulled up. Apparently another person had cuts or stab wounds.
The police supervisor vehicle pulled up to one scene, then left and went to the other.
Wasn't it just a few days ago when a kid was stabbed down the street. Yes, it was.
Everyone we talk to is just so sick of this. They are sick of the crime, sick of the stabbings, sick of the sirens, and sick of the police presence.
We don't live in the States, where violence is the norm. We don't live in South Central L.A. or Detroit. We live in Canada, and we live in Winnipeg. And we are just so sick of living like this. Somebody please, please fix this. I don't even want to think about what may happen if it gets worse than it is now. Somebody has to do something, now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dying, At Age 15

Winnipeg has reached its 30th homicide today. The young boy who was stabbed early Saturday morning is not expected to survive his injuries, according to reports in the media today. He hasn't had a chance to really live, cutting his life short, before it has really started. But that seems to be an all too familiar story in Winnipeg these days.
One has to wonder what a 15 year old boy was doing at 2:40am on a Saturday morning bicycling down a neighbourhood street. The sad thing is, I have seen youths out late at night on bicycles. This is how drugs get delivered. The runners are youths, and they travel by bicycle. Was this a confrontation between rival groups? Who knows. Was this youth running drugs? Who knows. But what was he doing that got him "stabbed in the chest 3 times", or so I overheard. And what are we doing to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future?
We have laws set up to protect Youth from harsh penalties, and this is just used by the criminal element to recruit our Youth. This boy is dying, very likely, as a result of our current Youth Justice System. He was likely stabbed while working as a drug runner, being devoured in a world he was too young to be in.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hey Look, No Yellow Tape Today

A neighbour walked past our house this morning as he does every day, taking his canine companion for a stroll. In part of the neighbourly banter he said "hey look, no yellow tape today". My husband joked and said the day was still young.
Just another day in the hood.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

15 Yr Old In Critical Condition After Stabbing

A 15 year old boy was stabbed this morning, and is in hospital in critical condition. Apparently he was out bicycling at 2:40am with another 15 year old. And some words were exchanged with a group of people, if I have my facts right. Then the group stabbed him in the upper body several times.
What I want to know is what were those two 15 year old boys doing bicycling down the street at 2:40 in the morning? And what were the other people doing out at that time of the morning? Shouldn't they be at home?
Maybe we need to set curfews on our young people to keep them from danger.
If people cannot make responsible decisions on their own, and their parents are not making responsible decisions, maybe the state needs to step in.
Maybe we need a curfew to keep the streets safe after dark. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Power Went Out Last Night, Again!

The power went out last night. I was watching Craig Ferguson and next thing I know, we are in a black-out. It wasn't even raining. The black-out lasted a couple of hours.
This is the third time this summer that the power has gone out. Last night our entire street went dark, and the next street over as well. A week ago, early in the morning on Sept 1 the lights went out in the middle of the night and stayed out until 9am or 10am. But that was during a storm, and a big chunk of the North End was without power, including several traffic lights. Before that, the power went out during the evening, and affected only our street and the next street over again, just like last night. It was on one of those hot summer nights, when we had our air conditioners running. We were without power for about an hour that time.
Is this the new normal? Every week or two we lose power?
Give me a friggin' break. I pay my taxes, just make the electricity work. This isn't a third world state, it's Winnipeg.
Again, I just want the basics. Pick up my garbage, arrest the criminals, and provide basic water, sewer and hydro. And give me a friggin' break already.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Not Working, The Neighbours Keep Talking

It's a beautiful day outside today. What a great end to a long weekend. My husband and I were doing a bit of tinkering in the yard, and tending to things that need to be done. We took a break and went over to the neighbours. We got to talking, and one thing led to another. Issues on the street came up. And issues facing the North End came up. My husband visited another neighbour and more issues were talked about.
Somebody, stop the madness. Stop talking about this. Nobody wants to hear it.
Nobody wants to hear anyone say "something has to be done". Nobody want to hear how frustrated you are. Nobody wants to hear how messed up things are.
Just stop talking about it.
Lets all drink lemonade, and have happy thoughts.
Lets pretend everything is fine.
Put on your blinders, stop looking, stop talking.
Nothing happens to people unless they are involved with gangs or drugs. Nothing will happen to you.
Just stop talking about it. Maybe it will go away.
If we all pretend it isn't happening, maybe it will go away.

The Less You Know, The Better It Is

The less you know, the better the North End is. Or, that's the way I see it.

Before I started my little project of fixing the North End, there wasn't much that I knew. I just knew my garbage wasn't always picked up, and police were on my street all too frequently. And I knew that my neighbours were loud, and dogs barked all night. That was about the extent of what I knew about my street.
We would make jokes about the armed standoff down the street where the Police crouched down behind an old broken fence saying "come out with your hands up". And we got used to asking the Police if we could go home, even if the street was blocked off. We were told just to stay inside once we got there. And nothing ever happened to us. These armed standoffs and road blocks are really just precautions, just incase there really is a gun, and just in case the supposed gun is discharged. But really, how often does that happen. Not often at all.

The less you know, the better it is.

If I am not watching for issues, I don't generally see them. If I don't ask people about issues they have had, I don't know about those either. And if I am not involved in crime, I am not attracting criminals and criminal behaviour to my person or property.

The less you are involved, the less it affects you.

If I am not dealing drugs or using them, I am not affected by those activities. If I am not partying all night with known gang members, I am not affected by their actions. If I am not causing problems for people, they have no reason to cause problems with me.

The less you associate yourself, the less you are involved.

What I am really trying to say is, the North End is not so bad, if you don't look at the bad. It's just a neighbourhood like all the other ones, unless you look down the street.

It's really not that bad.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where The Heck Is "The Times"

Thursday has come and gone. That's the day we get The Times in our mailbox. That's the day our local newspaper arrives to our doors. But this week it never came.
I just found that local paper this morning. It was sitting in my dumpster along with a pile of other undelivered flyers. I guess I know why I never got The Times in the mailbox. It's because the flyers were delivered to the dumpster in my back lane. Maybe they got the address mixed up, and thought their job was to put the entire pile of flyers into a dumpster instead of giving them to people who may read them.
I have no photographic evidence of these flyers, as I don't really feel like getting my camera, running outside to take a photo of garbage, and coming back, unloading the image, resizing it, and filing it on my computer. I just want to say that the flyers and community newspaper were yet again delivered to my dumpster.
I guess good employees are hard to come by these days.
If those at Flyer Advantage are reading this, I have applied for the position of flyer delivery person in my area. I will actually deliver them to houses. I will put them in mail boxes, and not in the dumpsters behind the houses who are supposed to get these items of information that someone has paid for.
Just a heads up. If you want them actually delivered, call me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's Not My Job, So It's Not My Job

It's not my job to patrol the back lanes in my area, and it's not my job to contact 311. It's not my job to provide information to the City of Winnipeg when garbage is overflowing in dumpsters, or mattresses have collected down the back lane. It is not my job to report garages falling down, and it's not my job to educate those I see illegally dumping garbage in the North End. It's not my job to phone landlords and inform them of ill behaved tenants, and it's not my job to ensure my neighbours are being respectful. It is not my job to provide information to neighbours on how to take care of their landlord issues. It is not my job to be the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood.
None of these things are part of my job description. I get no pay cheque for these things I have done. The performance of these tasks was not to become wealthy, or to gain fame. It really just started because my husband and I wanted a good night sleep, and we wanted our garbage picked up. And for some reason, I thought I might be able to fix these issues. So I tried.
After a full year of performing these tasks, I have gained a bit of insight into the issues facing the North End of Winnipeg.
I have learned that garbage will keep appearing. No matter how many times I call to have it taken away, or talk to landlords or illegal dumpers driving into the North End, it will just keep coming.
I have learned that landlords will keep populating their rental units with whomever they want. After logging incidents, calling the Police, calling landlords, having tenants removed, new ones appear to repeat the same patterns. Nothing really changes, and it just costs me time and aggravation.
I have learned that City Departments are complaint driven, and there is no rush in taking care of any issues in the North End.
And the worst thing I learned was issues with the Police. I have had two seperate incidents involving the Police which have disturbed me. One, when a landlord attempted to run me down and the Police officer refused to take my statement. The other was with an intoxicated individual damaging property, attempting to break into a residence, drove drunk, and drove into a fence. The Police representative on the phone said there was no incident, and the police who responded to our 911 call said the person was doing nothing wrong.
I have had further information given to me regarding a lack of arrests when people commit crimes. I was told about a retail outlet in the North End, where shoplifters are caught. When the Police arrive, they release the offenders without charges being laid. Some cases involve theft of over $500. I have heard about people being assaulted and victims taken, leaving the accused to remain free. I have heard of people calling the Police to report intoxicated individuals asleep on their front lawns, being told to just drag them out of their yards. Nevermind all the drug deals seen in plain sight, and prostitutes on the streets.
Well, this is not my job. It is not what I signed on for. And this is just a little too big for me to fix.
Maybe Sam Katz should walk down a couple of streets in the North End. Maybe he should take a look at the condition of this part of HIS city. Because, quite frankly, I am tired of looking. And I am tired of trying to fix a City that doesn't want to be fixed.
I will take care of my own dumpster. And I will take care of issues in my yard. But as far as the North End goes, I think you better call in the Army, because the City doesn't seem to care.
The Fort Garry Horse are at their barracks on McGregor, so they're handy. Just submit a request for services. Declare Marshall Law if you must. Trudeau did it when he felt it necessary. But do something.
Somebody has to grow a pair, and take care of business, because it's not MY job.

Lets Get The Heck Out Of The North End

My husband and I went on a little adventure today. It was Saturday, and I wanted to do something outside of the North End. I haven't been to the Farmers Market out in St Norbert for years, ok, decades. I haven't been to the Farmers Market in St Norbert in decades. I thought it might be something fun to do. I have heard it is the best Farmers Market around.
We got up early. I made a nice Saturday breakfast of french toast. We ate. Then off we went on our adventure to the other side of town. As we approached the area I asked my husband if he remembered where the Farmers Market was. He said it wouldn't be hard to miss. Then I saw the line-up of cars on the street trying to turn left into a parking lot. And I saw the rows of cars parked all down the street. The lots next to the Market were charging $2.00 per car for parking. I kept driving. Side streets seemed to be lined with cars, and parking lots all seemed full. We finally found parking and hiked to the Market.
Boy that place was big. There were so many vendors, each selling their wares. And there was a variety in items being sold. There were pickles, canned items, and jam at some vendors. Others had several varieties of squashes, or carrots coming in three different colors. One vendor was doing henna tattoos. Baking was for sale from a variety of tables. Bison meat and free range chickens were also for sale.
But what I noticed the most about the Farmers Market was the price on everything. A loaf of bread was $3.75, a pumpkin pie was $7.00, a cookie was $2.00, corn was $.50 each. I thought Farmers Markets were supposed to be inexpensive places to buy vegetables and other wares. Maybe times have changed and I just haven't kept up with them. It looks like the Farmers Market is now a place where people of means go to have a nice country experience on a Saturday morning.
It was nice to go on an adventure today, but I guess I will just have to pick my vegetables from my own back yard garden. I have a Farmers Market at just the right price in my own back yard in the North End of Winnipeg.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Yard Is Attacking Me

What a day ..... what a week even.
I just got stung by a wasp. While moving a ladder, as I was working on replacing the facia on the back of the house a wasp stung me on the arm.
Well, if that's not enough, I twisted my ankle a few hours earlier. I stepped backward in the yard and landed in a hole. That hole must have been dug by some wild animal that likes hanging out in my yard. I wish people would keep their animals on leashes, or in their houses. Or maybe they should train their animals not to dig holes in my back yard. The hole got filled in pretty quick after that. I wish I saw it earlier.
And just a few days ago, I was stung by yet another wasp while watering my tomatoes in the back yard.
What the heck is going on. My yard is attacking me.
Or, is it the wasps that swarm in my dumpster and feed on the apple tree a few houses down that are spilling over into my yard. We spray the yard with insect killer, and put out wasp traps. But that doesn't seem to be enough to keep them at bay.
I don't sit on my front deck much any more because the wasps are getting so bad.
But I guess that is just a part of living in Winnipeg in the fall. And it is just a part of being on my street in the fall as well.
Time for ice on my elbow, and ice on my ankle, and maybe I'll put some ice in my drink as well.
That's it for now, all iced up on my street in the North End of Winnipeg.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Checking The Well-Being Of An Individual

I went out for coffee this morning. My power went out and I have yet to install a gas powered generator in my kitchen to take care of my coffee fix under these circumstances. So I had to walk to the local coffee shop.
I passed the bus stop on the way there. There were a few people standing around the bus shelter waiting to catch a bus, and two individuals inside the shelter as well. After a second look I noticed one person in the shelter was sitting on the bench, wrapped in a colorful blanket. And there was a second person lying on the cement floor of the shelter. The doorway was blocked by a shopping cart turned on its side.
As I walked past the scene I wondered for a minute who one calls for things such as this. The one person was awake, and the other I guess was still sleeping on the ground.
Then, when I came from the coffee shop I got my answer. The fire truck was just pulling up, and a crew of men, clad in blue gloves, came out to investigate the situation.
Then it hit me. They were there to check the "well-being" of the individual. I remember now. In listening to the police scanner there are several calls of this nature, checking the well-being, whether the individual is in a park, on a sidewalk, or anywhere else really. In this case, it was a bus shelter.
It rained last night, so I guess the two individuals found shelter in a dry place. And they were thoughtful enough to block the entrance to the shelter. They got a shopping cart, and turned it on its side, placing it in the doorway to make it difficult for anyone to enter their shelter from the storm.
But the more I think about it, the more I wonder what was really going on at that bus shelter. Only one of the individuals had a blanket, the one who was awake, the one sitting on the bench. The other person was lying on the ground. Did he fall from the bench? Was he sleeping? Did the two know each other?
I guess that is not for me to know. The fire department was on the scene, and they were checking the well-being of the individual. That's part of their day on the job.
As for me, I was going home to drink my coffee and get on with my day. I guess it is just another day in the hood.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fire Trucks On My Street Again Last Night

In the early morning sirens stopped down the street. The time was 2:30am. Several fire trucks pulled up in front of a house that had been set on fire in early June this year. It looks like it was set on fire again this morning.
A neighbour said the same house was on fire yesterday morning. Yesterday, the fire trucks arrived around 1:30am. I guess I slept through that one.
The house in question sits next to an empty lot, that had a house on it a few months ago. In May, the neighbouring house burned to the ground. Then only one week later this house was on fire, suffering several thousand dollars damage internally. Three other fires took place in that lane this spring.
A few weeks ago we had another fire on the street. A minivan was set on fire in a neighbours back yard. And on July 25 another neighbour had their dumpster set on fire.
We have a fire problem on our street. The one block that was on fire this morning has had seven fires since spring, three of which were to a single home.
I say that is seven fires too many for that block.
If you see a fire bug, report a fire bug, and put an end to this mayhem.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crime Being Discussed According To Demographics

When does a discussion on crime become a rasist discussion? And when is it just a discussion on crime?
Should crimes be reported as being committed by specific age groups or genders? Should they be identified as being committed by specific body builds, race, or skin color? What about identifying the suspects as being from specific parts of town, or specific provinces or countries? How much should be reported about suspects, and how important is that to the story? What should the public be told about the demographics of those suspected or charged with crimes?
When analyzing crimes, I would think demographics would be very important. If arsons are being committed by 30 yr old Caucasian lawyers from Ottawa 9 times out of 10, that would be something to look further into. What makes a 30 yr old lawyer suddenly start lighting fires, and why only the Caucasian lawyers that come from Ottawa? In understanding the demographics, one can better understand what causes those people to do the crime. Once the causes are determined, prevention measures can be used to reduce those sorts of arsons in the future.
So, demographics can be useful in discussions on crimes when used by analysts. Would the same hold true  for community meetings? What if a community meeting was held to discuss arsons in the area. I will use the same example as given above. What if someone mentioned that most of the arsons were committed by 30 yr olds. Or what if they said most arsons were committed by Caucasian people. What if they got specific and said most of these crimes were happening by 30 yr old Caucasian lawyers from Ottawa? Or what if they just said there is a certain demographic committing these crimes. Would any of these statements be considered racist? If the comment made was known to be true, and was in the context of a discussion of the issue, would it be considered racist? And if it was considered to be racist, how could the meeting be at all useful in discussing the issue of arson?
Next, change just one of the demographic markers. Change the age to 12yrs old, 18yrs old, and 60yrs old. Are you tooking at the crime in a different way, and in turn looking at solutions in different ways? Change another marker, change Caucasian to Asian, South American, African American, Aboriginal. Is there a difference again? Now change the profession, change it to cab driver, homeless person, short order cook and secretary. And last, change the origin of the person. Have them living in the area of the arson, living across town, living in BC, living in Ireland, and living in Iraq.
Each time I changed one marker in the demographics, I changed the way I viewed the crime. When I found out the person was a secretary, all of a sudden I saw that they may be female. Previous to that, I looked at the suspects as males.
Each piece of information included or excluded changes the image we create in our minds, and it changes our abilities to understand the crimes being committed.
How can we discuss issues, if we cannot discuss demographics?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Decline And Fall Of Civilization

This blog post is not based on facts. It will not quote international studies of the great civilizations that have existed over time. It will not tell how specific actions resulted in specific outcomes. This is just a blog post talking about how I am feeling right now, today, on my street in the North End of Winnipeg.
I look out my door, and down my street, and see actions that make me shake my head. I cannot understand how the City of Winnipeg can allow these actions to continue. It confuses me to the point of exhaustion on how these things continue day in and day out.
Then I read in the newspaper how minimum sentences might be unjust to certain members of our society. They might be unjust because their relatives had to go to a residential school. And they might be unjust because so many of these particular people are already in prison. Then in another article I read that two youths were given minimum sentences for crimes committed. They were each given seven years. But they were not given the seven years in the way I would think. They were given three and four years in prison, and four and three years supervised probation, or some such thing. That does not seem like seven year sentences to me.
Well, not unless you consider the North End of Winnipeg to be an extention of the prision system. And the more I think about it, that is just what the North End is. It is a huge half way house. It is filled with criminals, probation recipients, and those with convictions listing longer than the average persons arms.
The North End is filled with people committing crimes too frequently to be arrested for them. And it is filled with criminal activity that does not have the evidence to arrest or convict. So really, if the North End is an extention of the prison system, then these people are already serving time. They are serving time in the North End Walls-Free Probation Housing Project (NEWFPHP).
The North End criminals are protected from justice, thanks to our Canadian Laws of freedom and democracy. Its law abiding citizens are refused safety based on the human rights of those committing crimes.
This, in my humble opinion is the beginning of the end of this country we call Canada. This country that holds such high ideals of Freedom, Human Rights, Protection of the Weak is in rapid decline. This Peace Keeping country is not keeping the peace at home. At least, not at my home.
This is the beginning of the end of civilization on my street, in the North End of Winnipeg, in the country that is currently called Canada. This country that is soon to be taken over by the criminals it is protecting. Or maybe, I will wake up from this nightmare, and find the Country I once knew as a child. But I am not holding my breath.
When will the Peace Keepers start keeping the peace in the North End of Winnipeg? And when will the laws start protecting the victims over the criminals? That's what I want to know. When?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Street Cleaners Came Down My Lane Today

My back lane is clean. I mean, it has been swept clean. The street cleaners came by and swept the back lane. I do not know how many back lanes in the North End got this treatment, but my lane is squeaky clean.
Thats all I have to say on the matter right now. Sorry, no words today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do We Really Need A Native-Run Police Force?

I read an article yesterday, on the CBC website Manitoba chief calls for native-run police force. Interesting concept, I thought. The article mentions that there are too few RCMP in Northern Manitoba. It also mentions that even when the Northern Reserves contact the RCMP regarding alcohol and drugs coming onto their dry reserves, the RCMP act too slowly to take care of the problems. They make mention of the long process in getting the RCMP involved, and the long list of checks the RCMP go through in doing their jobs. Privacy concerns were also mentioned as a reason RCMP are not able to act on these issues. So the Chiefs say the fix for these issues is to make a native-run police force.
I am not too sure that setting up a native-run police force is really the answer to this issue. My thinking is that it would just cost a lot of money, and nothing would be accomplished except setting up another police force. This new Native-run police force would still have to go through all the same checks and balances, and follow all the same processes and procedures as the RCMP, and end up in the same place. Nothing would change. Except they would have to do all the administration of the new police force to boot.
And I was thinking those Northern Reserves are not so different from Winnipeg's North End. We have all those gang houses, and drug houses. We have all those guns, grow ops, and dealers. And we have all those intoxicated individuals and domestic disputes. The City Police are busy going through their long check lists, and following all their processes, before they can act on anything. I do not think the answer to the problems in the North End of Winnipeg is getting a Native-run police force. I think the answer is looking into the laws, procedure, and processes in place that are slowing the work of the existing police forces.
Maybe the Manitoba Government could get some help from the Aboriginal Leaders who are concerned about the crimes being committed on their Reserves and involving their people. Maybe those who are willing to jump on the Native-run police force bandwagon could help in adjusting the laws so the RCMP and City Police are able to do their jobs.
I mean, I am no rocket surgeon, but maybe that would be a good first step. Fix the broken system of checks and balances, privacy laws, and police procedures that are handcuffing the RCMP and City Police, preventing them from doing their jobs. And stop pulling the race card at every turn. We all want the same things here, less crime and more safety.
It doesn't matter where we were born or what color our skin is. We all want safer communities. Don't we?

Monday, August 22, 2011

RIP Jack Layton

I heard a comedian a few months ago. One of his lines was that when Canadians get angry, they write letters. It was funny when he said it. My delivery is somewhat lacking. But, we write letters. When we get really ticked off, we write letters.
And Jack Layton was no different. To the end, he fought for what he believed in. He spoke his mind. And in the end, he wrote a letter.
He wrote a letter just two days prior to his death. It ended with this message:
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.
Words to live by, I think.
No matter what your politics, I am sure you would agree that Jack Layton was a good guy and will be sadly missed.
In memory of Jack Layton, lets keep optimistic, share hope and love, and lets change the world.

One Year Anniversary Of "A Day In The Hood"

It was on this day last year that I starting writing "A Day In The Hood". Wow, has it been that long? Or Wow, I can't believe it has only been one year. So much has happened. And so much has been documented.
But what, if anything has really changed for the better?
I would have to say my writing has improved.
Here it is .... the post that started it all. In memory of that day, the day I got so mad, I started a blog.

A day in the hood in Winnipeg

I looked out my door on August 21 as I was getting ready to go out for the day. To the right of me, at the end of street was a police car. It was blocking traffic from going down the side street. Behind the police car was the swat team truck, and there was an ambulance sitting on the street as well.
Wasn't it just yesterday when there was an ambulance and two police cars on our street? It was to the left yesterday, so it was not the same issue. And it was yesterday when a guy in a half ton truck stopped at our dumpster to deposit his garbage. Apparently he feels it is his right to use our residential dumpster to deposit his door and metal construction scrap. He even told us to clean up our back lane and be happy that he is putting garbage in our dumpster.
Oh ya, and the day before that we had another guy come to the dumpster to drop off his construction material. He said he does have a dump truck, but the Brady Landfil charges him to dump garbage so he prefers to use the dumpsters in the north end.
The night before that our neighbours decided to bring their loud swearing, and screaming into their backyard. They started partying at about 2pm, but took the party inside while it rained. I guess the rain stopped by 4am, because that was when I woke up. I did call the police about the noise after a full half hour of screaming being heard, even after I closed the window. But the police are too busy with more violent activities to respond to a neighbourhood who cannot sleep.
If it was the only night we were without sleep, I would not be so upset. But it seems that every night that it is nice, either the rooming house / crack house or the duplex beside it is partying.
Well, I am mad and I am not going to take it anymore.
What I just mentioned was a small picture of my neighbourhood.
I am going to start writing about the activities in my neighbourhood. I don't know if it will do anything, or promote any kind of change, but it will allow me to get it off my chest.
In my wildest dreams maybe it will assist in some small way to help change the laws that allow the many issues to continue. Maybe we can have the "catch and release" of criminals changed to catch and discipline.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Feral Cats Attacking Dogs

We have cats on our block. I am not talking about those Cougars found in Transcona. I am talking about kitty cats. But they are not your ordinary kitty cats. These are animals that are running loose in the streets and alleys. I can't tell you how many different cats go through my yard on a daily basis, but there are a number of them. Some are missing ears, one was seen looking really beat up, with no hair left on it's tail. These are not ordinary house cats. They are not pets. They don't let you get too close to them.
And we have neighbours that care about the stray cats. They feed them, and they don't want the cats trapped. For some reason, these feral stray cats are considered to be treasured kitty cats that need to be taken care of.
But, I am not sure that is the right way of viewing the feral cats.
In the last three weeks, I have heard  of three separate neighbours recount stories of feral cats attacking their dogs. One neighbour spent over $400 at the vet stitching a gash closed in the side of her poor pet dog. Another neighbour had her dog traumatized by the attack, while she took her leashed dogs for a walk. The third dog I heard about second hand, and don't have a lot of detail on.
The way I see it, we should be taking care of the pets we own. You know the kind. The ones you can approach without loosing an eye. The ones you take inside, or keep in a fenced yard or on a leash. We should not be feeding feral, dangerous stray animals. And we should not view these feral animals as cute little pets that need to be saved.
For those who don't want to hear it, close your ears or stop reading now.
It is time we got these feral animals under control.
Next time it might be your kids that are attacked by these animals, or it just might be YOUR dog that gets its side ripped open by the feral animals you are feeding.
I am sorry to be so harsh about this, but it just ticks me off when I keep hearing about yet another dog getting attacked by a feral cat.
Or at least that's the way I see it, as I chase feral cats from my yard, in the North End of Winnipeg.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Pipes Broke And Landlord Wouldn't Fix It

I read an article in the Winnipeg Free Press today, Nobody should be living like this, and it reminded me of a tenant I once had.
Now, I don't know what happened with the people mentioned in the Free Press today. Nobody really knows but those intimately involved. But I know what happened to me.
I had a tenant a few years back. He was a nice guy. He had a job. And he rented the suite above me. Our house is a duplex, we were living on the main floor, and we rented the upstairs suite. Or at least that's the way it used to be, back when this particular guy lived here.
One day I noticed a ripple in the wall in my kitchen. I thought it was a bit odd, and didn't remember seeing it there before. The next day the ripple was larger, and there were more ripples developing. It quickly became apparent that something was wrong, and it was coming from upstairs. We paid our tenant a visit, and had a look at his bathroom. The sink was leaking. It was leaking so bad that the rug in front of his sink was soaking wet. I asked if he was aware that his sink was leaking. And I asked if he was aware that the rug in front of his sink was soaking wet. He was. He said he didn't want to bother us.
I explained to this tenant that the water was running down the wall in our kitchen. I said it was wrecking our house. And I told him to please bother us when something isn't working. And please bother us when there is water all over the floor. Again, I told him that the water leak was wrecking the house. We got a bucket for the sink, until we could get it fixed properly. And we asked him to keep an eye on the water in the bucket when using the sink.
Next thing I know, a few months later, there was a strong odor of cat feces. I mentioned this to the tenant. I asked if maybe he needed to empty his litter box. He said no, it was clean. The odor continued. Finally, I said I wanted to have a look at the apartment. We went in, and found the entire apartment covered in cat feces. It was up the stairwell, and on the floor in all of the rooms.
His cats looked sick as well. One was missing an eye, they both seemed riddled with lice. I asked that he do something about the cats, and get the place cleaned up, fast.
We also noticed a huge ice dam behind the entrance door. It was surrounding the drain pipe from his kitchen sink. We asked how long it has been like that. He didn't know. We had a look at the kitchen sink, and it was full of stale, dirty water. We asked if the sink worked. He said it did not. He said it had been clogged for quite a while. But again, he did not want to bother us.
We started defrosting the pipe, and taking care of the new issues. And we told our tenant he had to get his place cleaned up or leave. He was already 2 months behind in his rent and we were getting a bit tired of hearing him tell us that he didn't want to bother us.
The tenant left in the night, never to be seen again.
We were within feet of this tenant, and he didn't want to bother us as he was destroying our home. We said hello almost on a daily basis and he still never said a word. I wonder what stories he tells HIS friends about his slum landlords when he lived in the North End of Winnipeg.
This person was a friend before moving in, and destroyed our desire to be landlords.
That was the end of our having tenants. We cut a doorway in the wall and took over the entire house.
And that was the end of trying to earn extra income in a duplex.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are You Missing Your Flyers Today?

Are you missing your flyers today? If so, I may know where they are.
My husband took the garbage out this afternoon, then came in the house and told he someone just filled our dumpster with a pile of flyers. He said they were still wrapped in plastic.

This is not the first time we have seen flyers tossed into our dumpster. But it is the first time I got a photo of it, and posted it here.
If you know what these flyers are, and if you pay someone to deliver them, you may want to have a chat with those who tossed them in my dumpster.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Apples Wasted On The Ground

There is an apple tree in a yard a few houses away from me. The tree has wonderful, large apples growing on it. I know, I tasted them last year. But, the owner of the residence does not seem to care that the apples are not picked and used. He doesn't seem to care that the apples just drop to the ground and rot, attracting insects and rodents.
Last year, I reported this issue to 311 and By-Laws. I wanted to see if something could be done about the apples falling on the ground. I also asked the property manager if I could pick the apples off the tree, to cut down on the waste, and number of wasps being attracted to the area. He said he had no problem with that, and I acted on it. But the tree had already been overtaken by wasps, and I was stung while trying to clear the apples from the tree. My husband and I only managed to get one single bucket of apples, before leaving the rest to the wasps.
This year, it seems we have the same problem. The apples are falling from the tree again. I would contact the property manager on the issue, except he seems to have a problem with me and/or my husband. When advising him, the other day, of loud partying coming from his property, my husband was advised to "sharpen his pencil". He was told there was nobody living there. We found that a very odd statement, especially after watching someone move in, seeing a bicycle chained to the front steps, and witnessing people coming and going from the property. But, if he doesn't want to acknowledge things happening at his property, I guess I will go straight to the City with issues related to his "unoccupied" property.
I was hoping the apples could get picked this year, and not wasted by dropping on the ground, and getting totally infested with wasps, while growing on the tree. Unfortunately they will be a nuisance again this year, instead of a treat for the kids.
I will try to document the issue enough, this year, that the By-Law department acknowledges an issue with this tree. When I asked about the issue a few months ago, I was told there was no issue last year. I was told there was a complaint, and the apples were taken care of. That is not how I remember events unfolding. But I guess it is all in the documentation. And I will try to get the tree listed with Fruit Share in the North End, so it can be picked yearly, and not be an issue to me or anyone else going forward.
I tell ya, if it's not one thing, it's another, on my block in the North End of Winnipeg.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, We Witnessed A Miracle Today!

The garbage truck came down the street today. And it stopped in front of that huge pile of bulky items the next block over. You know, the pile I just blogged about. The pile that 311 just told me I had to count, if I wanted them picked up.
I wonder why BFI dropped by to get the items. Was it because I wrote a blog piece yesterday about that great pile of crap? Or was it because I sent an email to my Councillor, Ross Eadie? Or was it because I sent an email to the head of Waste Management at the City of Winnipeg? Or maybe they came by because everyone on the block has been calling for the past month to have the stuff removed.
When I saw the BFI truck roll by, and stop in front of that pile of bulk items, I took a walk over. I wanted to make sure they picked up the entire pile. While I was on my way, I heard a neighbour comment. She said it was about time they came by to pick it up. I asked if she had contacted the City about it. She said she had. She said she has been calling for a month already. She said the woman who just moved into the house with the garbage in front has been calling the City as well. The new resident was concerned about the garbage because she has kids, and doesn't want them around that big mess of garbage on the front boulevard. And besides, it should be picked up. These people get paid to pick up garbage, and should be doing their jobs. And she said the family that was at that house last month was calling too, to get the garbage picked up. Apparently, they had concerns about the garbage pile, and their kids were climbing on it. They wanted it gone too.
Another neighbour came out of their house to watch the BFI worker clean up the pile of garbage. He had the same comment. "It's about time".
It seems everyone on the block has been calling the City to get this mess cleaned up.
And finally, the heavens parted, and a BFI truck decended on the street to take the refuse away.
It really shouldn't feel like a miracle. It is just garbage being picked up. But sometimes it is such a struggle to get this stuff picked up, that it really does feel like an act of God. It feels like we witnessed a miracle today. The garbage was picked up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Please Count The Exact Number Of Chairs, Mattresses and Dressers

There is a large pile of bulk items in front of a house down the street from me. The houses along that stretch of my street have no back lane, so garbage is placed on the front street in the black carts. That means bulk items get piled on the boulevard awaiting removal.
I took a picture of the pile of bulk items back on August 3-4, but did not submit it to 311. I need the exact house address in order to submit a pickup request, and I could not read the address on the house.
It is actually a bit of a process in finding the correct address. First I would have to locate an address on one of the houses near the one in question, preferably a neighbouring property. If I do not get the address when I am on the street, I go to google and check the street view for the nearest address that is posted on a house and is visible. Then I go to the City of Winnipeg Property Assessment Search website and start typing possible addresses that may be associated with the property in question. It is best to get the addresses on both sides of the one in question, to ensure I have the correct address. I would hate to give 311 the wrong information and have them tell me that I made a mistake. Especially with this sort of report, as it may involve City By-Laws. For that, I definitely need the right address, or By-Laws may tell me the bulk items are not associated with the house I have lodged a complaint against. But really, I just want this garbage removed.
So, I finally took the time today to search google, and the City Property Assessment site, and I found the correct address.
This is the email I sent to 311 today:
There is a large pile of bulk items on the front blvd of xxx xxx Ave that has been there since the beginning of August. I have attached a photo of the pile. There are mattresses, couches, chairs and dressers on the blvd.
And I included a photo:
I thought I took care of everything, and the issue would be dealt with. Apparently not. It seems I have to go out and count the number of chairs, mattresses and dressers. Sorry, if you think I am going near that bedbug infested pile of crap on that front boulevard, you are sadly mistaken. And if you think I have that kind of time on my hands to devote to that pile of crap, again, you are sadly mistaken.
Here is the actual reply I got from 311:
Good Afternoon,

Thank you for your email. There has already been a collection request put through to the department for the 2 couches. The department will require the exact amount of chairs, mattresses and dressers that are located on the front boulevard of xxx xxx Ave. Please respond at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for contacting Winnipeg 311.

Service Representative
311 Contact Centre

Now, if they already got a request to remove some crap from the boulevard, wouldn't that be enough? If I advised them that there are also dressers, mattresses and chairs in the pile, wouldn't that be enough? And if I attached a photo of the pile, wouldn't THAT be enough? Apparently not. Apparently citizens reporting crap on the boulevard have nothing better to do with their time than to count items for 311. Not this lady.
Just schedule the damn truck, and pick up the crap on the boulevard, would ya!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

BFI Works On Saturday?

I heard a noise in the lane this morning. It sounded like a vehicle struggling with a steering fluid issue, and it seemed to go on for quite some time. I cannot really say what the noise actually was, but I know it was coming from the lane.
By the time I got the interest to go into my back lane today, it was around noon. And when I arrived, I saw the mattress by the full dumpster was gone, and so was all the garbage on the ground around it. The big screen TV was taken away as well, along with the kiddy pool leaning up against it, that arrived last night. And the two mattresses were taken out of the other dumpster.
There was fresh steering fluid on the ground, in that all too familiar pattern. So, I am pretty sure that noise I heard in the back lane earlier was from the garbage truck.
A few things surprised me about todays events, though. First, that a BFI truck dropped by on a Saturday. And second, that the loose bags and boxes beside the dumpster were picked up and taken away along with the mattresses. I guess I will have to say "Thank You" to BFI for taking care of these items today.
The full dumpster, that did not get emptied on Friday, is still filled to the top. I am hoping it is emptied prior to this next garbage day, as I did submit a request for an overfilled dumpster to be emptied already. Time will tell on that one. And three other dumpsters are well on their way to being full. As folks around town do yard work and home renovations this weekend, I am sure the dumpsters will become even more full of unwanted materials in the days to come. I will have to keep an eye on the lane, and submit my requests to 311 for dumpsters to be emptied and unwanted garbage to be removed.
As our Chief of Police said, in relation to the rash of fires that have hit Winnipeg in these past few months, something has to be done about the policies of Waste Management. I would have to agree with that. I should not have to be this vigilant in my back lane, just to make sure I am able to take my garbage out and have it removed from the lane. And there should not be this much garbage appearing in my lane. These dumpsters are for residential garbage. Not for mattresses, or big screen tvs, or lawn care business refuse, or construction materials. These dumpsters are not here for landlords to empty their properies, and they are not here for tenants to dispose of great piles of unwanted materials.
The sign on the dumpster says, or it would if it was not burnt off, "if you cannot bag it or tie it, you cannot toss it".
Take your unwanted TV's, couches, mattresses, construction materials and yard waste to Brady Landfill, where it belongs. And stop adding fuel to the all too many fires in the back lanes of Winnipeg.