Friday, May 6, 2011

The North End Escape Route Alley

I've seen it a few times. Well, quite a few times. I've seen people cutting through yards. But they don't just walk through the yards at a regular pace, wanting an easier route to their destinations. What I have seen is people running through yards, jumping fences like jack rabbits, racing across the road and down a few houses, then through another yard and out the other end, in an effort to avoid the law. I have seen people scatter from one house, ditch the evidence, then enter a different house down the road. I have seen people run from a building where the fire department has been called, to hole up in the house next door until their original location is free of officials.
Yesterday, when I saw three youth run through a yard and scatter, I saw a police car soon after. I flagged them down to fill them in on the events taking place. The Police mentioned they were not even after those particular youth. They were looking for someone who was wielding a hammer as a weapon. But, just the sight of the Police caused everyone in the neighbourhood to scatter. And by running, they brought too much attention to themselves. Then, whatever evidence they dumped brought a few more Police cars to the street for a closer look. Although the runners were not located, something of interest definitely was.
It is almost funny watching criminals scatter, visualizing their escape routes throughout the neighbourhood. Seeing the speed at which they move in an effort to elude the Police is almost an art.
So, how do the Police manage to catch anyone in the North End, if they scatters at the drop of a hat or the sound of a siren?
In thinking about ways to combat the scattering of criminals, the movie 'Brazil' comes to mind. I could almost visualize a helicopter hovering overhead, dropping the shrinkwrap over the house. Then troops rappelling ropes to cut holes in the roof, dropping in on those found on the computer generated list. Escape would not be an option. Strait jackets and hoods get installed on the wanted, and invoices produced for signature by those remaining. Then the troops would exit, with their prey in hand, through the same holes in the ceiling. And the captures would fade from memory soon enough.
Ok, back to reality. How do the Police deal with this crazy movement of criminals? I guess the best way they can. We see the Police cars driving up and down the side streets, cutting down the streets and back lanes. We see it all too often. We hear about people jumping out of windows, hopping from roof to roof as they attempt to escape. I do not envy the Police one bit in dealing with these issues. It's got to be a tough job catching these people suspected of ill doing. I can't imagine the frustrations associated with catching them, just to see them back on the streets the next day.
All I really know is that the sirens keep singing and the people keep running. And we keep watching the show.

Talk To Your Neighbours: Police Say No, But By-Laws Say Yes

I went to our local police station today to file a report regarding the landlord who threatened me with his van. It turns out that it was really only hearsay. It was a case of "he said" and "she said" and not much more. The officer did say he would make a note of our dropping by. And he did offer a bit of advice. He told us not to go down that back lane when that particular landlord is around. He said that would likely solve the issue. And he said I would be better off if I did not talk to anyone when I did my walks down the back lanes.
Then I remembered the article in the Free Press a few weeks ago, where Peter DeGraaf talked about people reporting issues to the By-Laws Department. He said we should be talking to our neighbours. Well, I guess I did talk to one of my neighbours. And he tried to run me down with his van. Or he tried to intimidate me by racing his van toward me, swerving at the last minute.
So, what the heck. The Police Department recommends not talking to any of my neighbours. And the City By-Laws Department says to confront my neighbour before reporting anything to the By-Laws Department. But in the end, neither Department really wants to do anything about the issues.
Meanwhile, the street has been crazy. We have had both Police and Fire on our street. And each time they show up, the "usual suspects" scatter. We see people running from one house to another, ditching stuff over fences. They relocate to less known diggs as they hide from authority. Whether anyone is after them or not, they scatter like rats leaving a sinking ship. We ended up flagging one of the Police Cars down to let them know what we saw. They weren't even looking for the people we saw, but ended up finding something of interest. And it turned into three cop cars on the street for a while. Then the one Police Officer commented that "the streets are over-run with criminals". You're telling me!
So, we have a neighbourhood over-run with criminals, and citizens wanting to help make change. And instead of encouraging citizens to help clean things up, it just seems like we are continually discouraged at every turn.
But I am not going to stop reporting bulky garbage being dumped in the lanes. And I am not going to stop reporting By-Law infractions. And I am not going to stop contacting all the departments I need to contact in my efforts to improve my neighbourhood. I just wish my City would give rats ass about us.
That's it for now, from my one street in the North End of Winnipeg.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blogger Narrowly Escapes Vehicular Attack By Landlord

I thought I would go for a walk tonight, as I do most nights, down the back lanes of the few streets in my area. I took photos of the usual suspect dumpsters. You know, the ones that seem to always be full. As I came toward the dumpsters that had been previously littered by bulky items coming from the boarded rental property, I was verbally acknowledged in a negative manner by the owner of that same boarded rental property. He wanted to know why I didn't have anything better to do. Then he opened his van to show me the stuff he had packed into the back of it. I wasn't really interested in his van, or what he put into it, and I told him the same. I was just taking pictures of dumpsters.

He continued to yell at me as I walked past his property and on to the next full dumpster. I stopped at the side of the lane, aimed my camera, and went to take a picture. But I could hear behind me a van starting up, and going into gear. I could hear the squeal of the tires as it came toward me in the lane. Then I jumped aside as the van raced past me. Geez. Who the heck does this guy think he is? I think he actually tried to hit me. What a maroon. What a moron. What a nin-com-poop.
Who the heck does he think he is. And why do you imagine he was so upset with me taking photos of the dumpsters. If he was doing nothing wrong, you would think he would not feel so threatened. If he felt he had every right to dump his crap in the back lane, he should not feel the need to run me down.
All I have to say is, what an ass. No, wait a minute, what a f*cking ass.
Who would have thought taking pictures of dumpsters would be so dangerous. I reported the incident to 311 so they can forward it on to the By-Laws department. I am not really sure if I should call the police about the issue. This guy was just a pr*ck. Maybe I will let 311 and By-Laws decide how to proceed with this particular landlord and his threatening behaviour.

Just Call 311 And Haul Your Crap To The Lane

I have been reporting illegal dumpings and bulk items to 311 for a while now. But a couple of days ago something happened that just confused the heck out of me. A property manager, or owner of a boarded up 4-plex was emptying the contents of the house into the back lane. And he said "don't worry, I have already called 311 to have them pick it up". What? What do you mean you already called 311? Who are you that you think you can dump all your crap in our back lanes and just call 311 to have them pick it up. What the f*ck? Tempers flared as confusion set in and the owner expressed his rights as a tax payer to put all the mattresses, dressers, bathroom sink, tables, and misc crap into the back lane in one huge pile. We left the scene, as the owner was getting quite heated that we would tell him what he was doing just was not cool. He was yelling that he was trying to fix his place up. He wanted to repair it and take the boards down and just did not know why we would not be pleased with him wanting to fix his boarded house. He said he was trying to improve the neighbourhood, and what he was doing was a good thing.
I wanted to drop by the scene of the crime an hour later to see just how big the pile of crap got. When we arrived, the pile had grown and so had the crowd of scroungers looking for prizes in the lane. People were dragging away dressers and mattresses, kids were taking away materials to use as forts that they could abandon once tired of them. And the helper was on the back steps of the boarded 4-plex.
As I was taking further pictures of the great pile of crap, the other guy that was helping in removing the items from the house began talking to us. It seems they had already called 311 to have them pick up the items in the lane. And apparently they do this quite often when emptying a house of unwanted materials. The story went that it would take them far too many trips to Brady Landfill in their Hummer, and they didn't want to have to pay to rent a truck to haul the stuff away. Instead they will call 311 and ask to be charged for the items being hauled away. But, he said, they generally are not charged. He did mention that they do rent a truck sometimes, but in this case, they just dumped the items in the lane. But they called 311.
Then the guy said he hoped the items would be taken away overnight, because they wanted to remove all the items from the second floor the next day. The huge pile of items was from only one of the floors. They had plans to haul even more crap into the lane once this pile had dissipated.
So, I got to thinking. If a person lives in Charleswood, and has a fridge that they no longer want, they can call 311 and have the bulky item removed for the small fee of $20.00. In fact, they can get up to 6 items removed for that small price. I am ok with that. It is a service the City provides and it helps people get large, bulky items removed when they don't have the ability or time to do so, or just plain find it easier to call the City and pay a fee. So, why can't a landlord, or owner of a 4-plex empty his entire house into a North End back lane, and simply call 311 to take it away? Can he? Is this right? Is this the actual process for removing crap from a house? Is this approved by the City? And do my tax dollars go to pay for this guy to have his crap removed from my lane? After all, his rental property is in a free zone for bulk garbage pick up.
Do I, as a neighbour to this event really have to accept that this guy can dump all the furniture, and the bathroom sink, into the lane? And all he has to do is call 311 to have it removed?
Please tell me, what is wrong with this picture?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Elections And Garbage All In A Day

Wow, what a race. First he was behind by 100, then 200, then 500. I thought for sure the NDP candidate, Rebecca Blakie, would take the seat. Next thing I see, he was only behind by 100, then ahead by 20. What? Are you kidding me? Kevin was ahead of Rebecca? Could it be? Can he take the seat again? Would he be able to hold the seat long enough to actually accomplish something? Then the results came in and Kevin won the seat with a margin of about 120 votes. That was tense. But it looks like Kevin L took the seat for Winnipeg North. Way to go Kevin.
I said it before and I'll say it again. I like Kevin L. And I have already built a rapport with him. I am glad he is back in power. It would have been a shame to have voted him in just 117 days (or so) ago and take the seat away from him before he had time to accomplish anything. That would have been a huge waste of time and effort for him. And for me, I would have had to get to know another politician, and work to build that rapport needed to get anything done. That would have put me back a few months as well.
But Kevin is back, and I will be getting back to work with him.
While I was waiting for the polls to close, I took a walk around the blocks, and down the lanes. It's the start of a new month, meaning dressers and mattresses are piled high beside the dumpsters. I took my pictures and submitted them to 311, like I always do. While walking down the lanes and streets in my neighbourhood, I go past the same houses, seeing the same garbage and crap piled high in back yards. I see the houses in disrepair with broken and smashed windows. And I see the yards full of dirt, mud, and huge tire rutts with garbage half buried in the muck. I wonder how the City can allow these issues to go unchecked.
Someone needs to take care of these issues and make sure houses are kept in some sort of reasonable shape, if not for the tenants then for the neighbours. Enough is Enough. And now that the election is over, I have plans and I am taking action. I think with Kevin's help we can make a change in my neighbourhood.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Bit Of Election Trivia - Winnipeg North

Winnipeg North is a rather large and diverse riding, or that's what has been said in the Media. So, I got on the internet and started googling for maps, and borders, and information. What I found was a map of Winnipeg North, showing some strange angular cuts marking its territory. I thought the northern boundary would be Leila, or maybe a little north of that. I was actually shocked to see how it was divided.  In my neck of the woods Inkster is the northern boundary. Then the riding continues up McPhillips to Leila and cuts to the West for a while. It goes north again just before Brookside, then west again before reaching the Perimeter Highway.
I had a look at the map to see what was in each area in an effort to understand these strange turns in the map. It almost looks like somone grabbed a pair of scissors and took the Northern Part of Winnipeg, from the CP tracks at Dufferin to the Perimiter Highway, and carefully chose the prime spots where businesses, shopping centers, hospitals, and newer housing were located, and left the rest behind. The rest would be Winnipeg North, and what was snipped out was Kildonan / St Paul.
Included in the scissor snipping was Amber Trails, a small but affluent community that was carefully excluded to the north of Leila just before the Winnipeg North riding takes a turn up Ritchie Street.
Then the Selkirk / Interlake people showed up with their scissors and chopped out a chunk inside the perimeter from Brookside along Mollard Road to Ritchie Street to grab what used to be a fairly large Honda dealership.
The way I see it, Winnipeg North lost out on the Transit building on Main Street and the two strip malls between Inkster and Leila. Then over at McPhillips they were not given Northgate Plaza or Garden City Shopping Center. And they missed out on the car dealerships on Main and McPhillips between Inkster and Leila. Then the Seven Oaks Hospital was cut out of the riding at the intersection of Leila and Mcphillips to add insult to injury.
I really don't know who decided on the borders of Winnpeg North, and how the property got divided. But it sure struck me as funny when I took a closer look at the area called Winnipeg North. Even the shape of Winnipeg North's riding looks chopped at compared to the shape of Kildonan / St Paul and Selkirk / Interlake. I don't know, but it sure struck me as odd that all of the affluent areas were not included in Winnpeg North.