Saturday, April 9, 2011

Report A By-Law Infraction A Day

When I was on the Winnipeg Internet Pundits show on Wednesday, I said there was a very simple solution to fixing the North End. I recommended that the City hire one person to report garbage issues, and hire another to report By-Law infractions in the North End. I figure that would cost the City about $50,000.00 and most of the issues would be resolved. I know I have over simplified the issues, but think about it. If I reported a house that had its eaves falling off, was unpainted, had the fence falling apart, screens on the house ripped, and windows broken, and the By-Law officers did their jobs, what do you think might happen? If everyone did their jobs, the landlord would have to take care of the issues. And if it kept happening, if windows kept breaking, and screens kept ripping, the tenants would have to stop destroying the property, or they would have to leave. If the tenants stopped destroying the property, and started taking care of it instead, they may start caring a bit more. If the tenants started caring a bit more, that may carry over into their kids being taught to care about their surroundings. If the kids started to care more about their surroundings, they might not stab someone for a cigarette. They might actually grow up to be assets to their communities, and their City. They might be productive members of society.
So, with that in mind, I am going to try and report a By-Law infraction a day. And I think you should do the same.
Today, my By-Law infraction is a house that had a fire November 5, 2010. I reported it to 311 on November 7 last year. The burned out couch was removed from the yard, but the house remains untouched. I think the landlord needs to fix the damage, so that's my By-Law infraction for today.

Friday, April 8, 2011

North End Discussion with Winnipeg Internet Pundits

I was invited to attend the University of Manitoba radio station this last Wednesday as a guest on their weekly show "Winnipeg Internet Pundits". The regulars on the show are Progressive Winnipeg, West End Dumplings, Slurpees and Murder, and One Man Committee, with special guests Winnipeg Girl, myself, and Heart of the Continent.
It was interesting sitting down and talking to different bloggers in the city, in real time. We were talking about the North End, and issues surrounding it. The consensus seemed to be that the North End is worth saving. But we have to convince our fearless leaders to be cooperative in that matter. And we need to stress the importance of the rest of the City assisting in keeping the North End alive. The issues are complicated, exept the issues are also very basic. The solutions are equally complicated, yet basic, and sometimes as easy as buying a cookie.
We have a North End that is dying, a Selkirk Avenue turning into a Social Work Ghetto, and an old school neighbourhood turning into boarded houses and rotting garbage. And what can any of us do about it? Let me make a list, if I could be so bold.
  • buy something from a shop in the North End. There are plenty to choose from. (Neechi Foods, Guns Bakery, Tenderloin Meats, Black Pearl, Neptune Seafood, Gimli Fish, Kelekis Restaurant to name just a few)
  • stop tossing your garbage in the North End
  • tell your councillor to start enforcing By-Laws in the North End to clean up the housing stock
  • hold the city accountable to maintain one of their older neighbourhoods, or the other older neighbourhoods may be next
  • set up your new business in the North End, lots of empty businesses on Selkirk Ave to choose from
  • as a landlord, maintain your house(s)
  • as a resident of the North End, pick up a piece of garbage, or better yet don't throw it on the ground in the first place
  • as a visitor to the North End, look for the good and celebrate it. There's lots of great architecture, great people, and great food.
The North End has not been on this tragic path for that many years. Just 20 years ago, it was a thriving community. Selkirk Avenue was filled with businesses, and people lived and worked in a community called The North End. It is not too late to turn it around, we just have to care enough to do it.

When I went for my daily walk yesterday, I saw one of my neighbours, one of the new tenants at the rooming house. He was in the back lane, and he was picking up garbage that was lying around the dumpster behind his new residence. There is hope. If that sketchy guy from the rooming house thinks his back yard and back lane should be cleaner, and picks up the garbage he sees, there is hope. That's the change I am talking about, and it is as easy as picking up a piece of garbage.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Illegal Garbage Dumping Season - Rules

As a reminder to all, this is what's required when reporting those dumping garbage in our back lanes illegally, as per Peter DeGraff (City By-Laws):

With respect to illegal dumping, CBES needs the following evidence in
order to proceed with enforcement activities:

-a witness statement
-vehicle plate number
-vehicle description
-description of the individual

Pictures of the above would enhance the investigation.

Yours truly,

Peter de Graaf
Manager of Community By-law Enforcement Services
City of Winnipeg
Community Services Department

Send the information to 311, and ask to be kept informed. Get a reference number for the incident. Keep a log. Follow up, and demand prosecution. Push the City to do their jobs.

I had a photo of the individual, photo of the truck and license plate, and photo of items dumped. I spoke with the individual and educated them that they were engaged in illegal activity and advised them that they would be fined if they did not remove the items.

It is illegal to dump construction material, and it is illegal to dump where you do not live. Ensure they are committing a crime, document it, and report it.

Happy hunting all  :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Illegal Dumping Man Fined

Not sure if you remember, but this blog started last August, just after I caught a guy dumping his construction garbage in my dumpster. My husband and I went into the back lane and found this guy loading our dumpster with wood scraps, metal scraps, and a door that he was taking out of his truck. We told him that he was not allowed to dump his construction waste in our dumpster, and if he did not remove the stuff, I would report him to the By-Law people and he would be fined. He chose not to remove his illegally dumped garbage, and he got fined.
I sent an email to Peter DeGraff at the By-Law office the other day, to get an update on the issue. I had filed a statement on this incident in November, after the By-Law department finally got information on the owner of the truck based on the license plate I provided. That's a whole other story ("City By-Law Officers Are A Facade") and the statement, finally ("Illegal Dumping Man Found And I Am Making A Statement").
I got an answer from DeGraff regarding the incident. It seems the guy went to court in January and pled guilty. He was fined $50.00. If my information is correct, this is the first time anyone has been fined for illegal dumping. So, this is a big deal.
But, I can't help thinking that was not a very big fine. What would it have cost the guy to dump construction material at the Brady Landfill? Although if he went to Brady, I am sure he would say it was basic residential trash, and pay a lesser amount. Then there is the whole expense of court costs, By-Law officer time, the extra garbage truck that was required to come down and remove the door from the dumpster. Again, another story ("The Dumpsters Got Emptied - Well Mostly"). As far as a deterent, $50.00 fine for every time the individual is caught, the person catching them wishes to push By-Laws into actually prosecuting the individual, and enough evidence is found to take the illegal dumper to court? The odds are still in favor of the guy doing the dumping. But I will still push for fines on every single illegal dumper I catch throwing their garbage where it doesn't belong. Someone has to tell these people they are committing an offense.

Circus Updates, I Can Hardly Keep Up

I was getting ready to go on a short trip this morning, loading the cooler into the van, when I could swear I heard someone screaming. It sounded like a loud scream coming from a male, but I couldn't say anything more than that. It was just a scream, in the distance, or not so far distance, but just a scream.
I went back into the house to get the rest of my stuff, and of course my husband. Then, we saw one of our neighbours on his way to the store. We stopped on the sidewalk to chat for a bit, and catch up on the goings on of the circus, since last we chatted.
As we were standing on the sidewalk, a police car went by. Then a van went racing past, followed by the police car again. Shortly after the police car drove by in fast, slow, gerky motions, it stopped. Then a male came running out of the yard across the street from us. He jumped the chain link fence like a rabbit, and ran down the street a few houses, and cut through the yard of the rooming house. It's funny how the criminals know which houses have fences and which ones give a clear path through. I guess he abandoned the vehicle he was in to take off on foot between houses. No helicopter in the air at 10am on a Tuesday morning, and police cannot keep up on a foot chase, and cruisers don't do well through yards.
We provided a bit of information to the officer, letting him know which yard the guy went through. Then we finnished our conversation with the neighbour, and left for the day.
Now, we just got home, and my husband went out back to put the recycling out. We figure tomorrow is recycling day, and want to get the blue boxes emptied this week. When my husband was in the lane, another neighbour was out back, removing ice from the lane with a shovel. They got together to have a chat, and catch up on news of the day.
While the guys were in the lane, the new neighbour from the infill house went into the lane and dumped a couple of tool boxes into the dumpster. The guys looked over to see what was going on, as people do. They young neighbour looked over and said "you got a staring problem?". Our neighbour asked what his problem was and was answered with "I'll give you a problem, bring it on". The young guy seemed to want a fight and began swearing and threatening the guys. Then he finally left and went back into his house.
While my husband was chatting with our neighbour, he mentioned the incident this morning, and our neighbour said he caught part of it as well. Apparently after we left this morning, more police showed up. I guess they really wanted the guy. Not sure what it was all about though. Doubt it will hit the news or the police releases.
Even while I am typing this, that kid came back into the lane to threaten the neighbour one more time. Hope that stupidity doesn't escalate. New neighbour, landlord said they work, and feels they should be no problem. He claims he only rents to quality people. Wish I had his phone number.
Just another day in the hood. Non-stop circus action, and six more hours left in this day.
Anyone want to buy a duplex?

Safety In A Rooming House

So, how safe is a rooming house. I mean, if you happen to live in a rooming house, how safe are you? And if you are living in close proximity to that same rooming house, should you be concerned?
I have a rooming house just a few doors down from me, and the large majority of tenants at that rooming house look, and likely are, sketchy. As soon as we manage to get rid of one problem tenant, they are quickly replaced by an equally, if not more, sketchy person. And the landlord moves these people in and out. I mean, the ones that are evicted are being moved out, and driven with their posessions, to their next residence. The sketchy replacements are seen unloading their household goods from the same, landlord owned, truck. So, what is really going on?
I have been witness to the one good tenant being attacked, and threatened with death by a fellow tenant. The attacker was arrested and taken away. I have seen suspicious activities involving duffle bags coming and going from the location. I have seen the sheriffs awaiting the return of a tenant to serve eviction notices.
Just last week the police were banging on the door of the rooming house looking for one of the tenants. Now I hear they are looking for this person in connection to a possible homicide; possible homicide of a missing tenant.
Then just a few days ago the landlord was moving more furniture out and driving someone away. Was the possible homicide suspect being moved out? Was it just his stuff? Or what was really going on?
When I report these incidents to the Police, I have no evidence, nothing is really being seen, anything could really be going on, I am not really providing information of value to anyone who really cares. I am just Gladys Kravitz, poking my nose out the window, being too nosey.
I know we have the safe communities act, and this can come into effect if there is something illegal or dangerous going on at a residence. But these people are moved too often to get anything on them, and new criminals are moved in. I often wonder if the landlord knows what is going on, and is moving them to another of their rooming houses in the city, circulating the ring of criminals. But that is just me being paranoid. Although, how many times has a landlord moved you in or out of a residence? And how many landlords do you know who will move someone out after evicting them?
But the circus goes on, furniture comes and furniture goes, new players are moved in and out as quickly as a ringmaster can call the next act into the ring.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maggots And Rice

I went for a walk today, like I normally do. Today as I walked down Salter Street I passed something on the sidewalk. It looked like rice, or maybe it was a pile of maggots. I am not really sure. Like most thing that I see in the North End, I do not stop and examine it too closely to see what it really is. And the mess on the sidewalk was just that, a mess on the sidewalk. It doesn't much matter if it was maggots or rice, I walked around it and kept on going.
As I moved down the street, I came across the community garden. The snow has mostly melted away. So, I decided to go into the yard and have a look at the garden boxes. I could see remnants of last years crops, along with garden tags indicating where the various flowers and vegetable plants once resided. As I walked slowly through the yard, a confrontation was beginning between a few people close by. I took that as an invitation to leave.
Nobody wants to hang around where an issue may occur. And nobody wants to be a witness to the fall-out.
On I went, down the lane behind the community garden, in a direction away from the shouts.
It's hard to tell, without closer inspection, who those people really were. They could be maggots, or they could just be rice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tin Foil And Sandwich Bags

I went to Dollarama yesterday with my husband. I needed to get a note pad, and pick up a few other things that are considerably cheaper there, than other stores in Winnipeg. It was the same Dollarama that was sited earlier this year for an over population of mice.
The store was busy when we were there, people crowding the isles, filling shopping carts with items.
While we were in the store we noticed two Youths making a purchase. They bought tin foil and sandwich bags. That was it, just tin foil and sandwich bags. I knew right away what the purchase was for. They were going to be dividing the 'product' and preparing it for sale. The Youth did not make any attempt to disguise their purchase by adding a couple of packs of pudding, or a chocolate bar. They just purchased what was needed to do the job.
Nothing in this neighbourhood is hidden. It is all out in the open, for all to see. And I see it. I see the drug transactions in the back lanes, the cabs moving people around, dropping them off and picking them up again, the ladies working in the back lanes and side streets. But what I want to know is, why is nothing being done about all these acts that are happening right in front of us? How can this continue to happen, day after day, and nothing is ever changed? I know, the kids were just buying supplies to wrap their sandwiches for school. "Nothin' Happenin' Here!!". But there is something happening, and it keeps happening.
More good people will leave the North End, and more criminal activity will happen. The North End will spread in every direction, and keep spreading. Drug houses are being found in all parts of the City. Cars are being stolen everywhere. We have had a murder this year in the South End. When will this end?
How bad does the North End, and the City have to get before this sort of action will be taken seriously, and stopped?
I see By-Law infractions everywhere in the North End, and garbage strewn in back lanes and streets. Yards are filled with garbage and unwanted furniture. Windows are broken on houses, and eaves falling off. We need a crackdown on By-Law infractions to start changing the look and feel of the North End. We need to hold renters, owners, and landlords accountable for their properties. Or we may as well just pack our bags and turn the City over to the criminals, because they have already taken over the North End.
Or at least that's the way I see it, day after day, in my part of the North End.