Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rainy Days and Burning Houses

Can a house burn in the rain? Apparently it can. Last night a house burned down on my street. One neighbour said the flames were coming out of the roof already before the fire trucks arrived. And they did arrive. The street was lined with them.
This is a house that had already burned once, about six years ago. It was a work in progress, slowly getting repairs done to it. I have always known the house as the one with house wrap on the front. I have never known it to be home to anyone, and I guess it never will be.
After the fire was extinguished, the heavy equipment was brought in to knock it down. The burned timbers got loaded into trucks and hauled away. I am surprised at how quickly the process is, when a house is burned to that extent. The rain did not stop a thing last night. It did not stop the fire, and it did not stop the removal of its remains.
Once the work is complete, we will be left with a vacant lot. I think that will be an improvement to the street. We seem to be gaining boarded houses lately, so a vacant lot is the lesser of two evils. And the way the housing market is going, that lot may soon hold a new infill house.
I am starting to pay attention to the vacant lots now, watching for those yellow variance postings. I am no longer going to let those variances go uncontested. You know the ones, the ones that change a single lot to a multi dwelling unit. In the last year or so, I have had two lots close to me change their zoning; one went to a duplex and the other a four-plex. My thinking is that single family dwellings are far more likely to go to people who live in their owned home, and improve the street. The multi dwelling houses are always rentals, and the likelihood of bad tenants moving in is pretty high.
So, this soon to be vacant lot is going to stay a single family dwelling. Rain or shine, they are not changing the zoning on that one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Official - Landlord Caught Illegally Dumping

Not sure if you remember, but back on May 2 I was strolling down the lane, when I came across a landlord emptying the contents of his 4-plex into the back lane. He had hauled out a pile of mattresses, dressers, tables, and other items, stacking them beside the dumpster. He said he called 311, so I should just leave him alone.
Well, today I spoke with the City By-Laws people, and apparently what he was doing is considered illegal dumping. So, I guess I am waiting to be called down to  make a statement. And when the time comes, I will go to court to see that this person gets fined for the illegal dumping of materials into the back lane.
This is the same person that tried to run me down with his van two days later, when I walked past his property. I think he needs to take an anger management course.
It's nice to know the system works sometimes. I reported this guys shenanigans, and the By-Laws department contacted me for more information. After a nice conversation with the By-Law officer, it was decided that we had enough information to prosecute this person.
Score another one for the good guys!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hells Angels And Winnipeg's Criminals

I was driving down Henderson Hwy the other day and saw someone on a Harley sporting brand new Hells Angels colors. I thought they were all in jail. I remember a few years ago the police rounded them all up and put them away. I also remember once the Angels were off the streets, the young criminals got a bit out of control.
The Angels kept the gangs in line. They made sure the young gang members were not bringing too much attention to themselves. The Angels are business men, and they have rules (or maybe guidelines) they adhere to. One rule, or guideline is that they don't cause trouble with regular citizens. It's bad for business. But when the Hells Angels were rounded up and put in jail, nobody was left to keep the young gang members in line.
So, when I saw the colors the other day, I got a bit excited. Could it be? Are they back? Are the Hells Angels back in town? I sure hope so. I look forward to spotting more H.A. colors on the backs of bikers this summer. And each time I do, I will feel that much safer, in my home in the North End of Winnipeg.
It's an odd statement to make; that I will feel safer when the Angels are back in town. But it is true. If the Police cannot keep these young gang members in line, the Angels definitely can. And the gang members will actually listen to the H.A. They will listen because there are real consequences to not listening to a Hells Angel. There is a consequence that the law cannot provide. But it is one that the young punks know and fear.
As odd a statement as this is, the North End, and Winnipeg in general, just might be safer with the Hells Angels running security over the gangs.