Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've become THAT person

You know, the one that ties up City resources with self-serving complaints to 311 about neighbours who have long grass. Don't get me wrong, I also send in dozens of complaints about "real" problems, but I've had enough of my neighbours and their untidy ways.

From the City of Winnipeg website regarding the Neighbourhood Liveability By-law (in nice simple language, compared to they by-law itself) in regards to boulevards:
Is there a minimum level of boulevard maintenance that property owners are responsible for?
Yes, the property owner is responsible for the following boulevard maintenance:

  • ensuring grass is no more than 15 cm (6 inches) high
  • ensuring other vegetation, other than turf, is no more than 1.0 m (39 inches) high
  • controlling noxious weeds
  • keeping the boulevard free of garbage
Are there exceptions? Of course there are!
 What boulevards are maintained by the City?
  • boulevards beside a regional street
  • boulevards flanking properties beside a regional street
  • ditches where grass has never been planted
  • boulevards at the rear of a property
  • extended boulevards – meaning a boulevard that is at least 20 feet wide as measured from the roadway to the sidewalk or property line
Does the City easily link to what the regional streets are? Of course they don't! But you can find it here. (To be fair that's from 2012 but I imagine it to be similar for 2013). Needless to say, none of my neighbours live near regional streets.

I live on a corner, the other 3 corner properties are all rental properties, which as we know is no excuse to have them look like crap. However, being a nice understanding neighbour who realizes that yard work might not be super exciting to a tenant, I have offered on numerous occasions to mow these boulevards. The one condition? Make sure they are free of garbage, it's not good for my lawnmower. Even as tenants they should want to live in a nice clean community, so it's win win - no yard work for them, nice clean "yard".

Do any of them pick up trash? Nope. Are their boulevards full of garbage and noxious weeds? Yup. Do I painstakingly remove weeds from my boulevard and yard? Yup. Oddly this not-giving-a-shit attitude also extends down to the next block where the corner houses also sit amongst tall grasses. The weirdest is the one that I know is owner occupied and that I also know paid a pretty penny for their house. Who buys a house for like $170k IN THE NORTH END (this was almost two years ago already!) and isn't the type to mow their lawn? I've also extended my offer to these people, but not been taken up on it.

It's interesting to reflect back on our youth and see how we are shaped into adults. Growing up in suburbia my family home was the horrible one. Generally in poor repair with grass that rivaled any open field, we would get orders to mow the lawn. Weirdly, the next door neighbour wasn't thrilled with the goat that got brought over to do the job (I wish I was kidding).

Teenage me didn't really understand what was going on; I knew that we were different but I didn't entirely understand why the neighbours cared so much what our yard looked like. I also had zero interest in doing any of that sort of yard work. Fast forward to buying my house. I don't know where it came from, but from day 1 I felt it was important to demonstrate that I valued myself and my neighbours and to keep a tidy yard. I certainly, not in a million years would have guessed that I would turn into that person who gets down on all fours to clip the grass along the chain link fence.

Now, for a fun little experiment, let's see how long it takes for those 9 properties to get mowed. I was patient, I waited until the majority of the grass reached the 6" in height to report it (lest I seem over zealous and not be taken seriously in the future to the 311 gods).

Flowers for my boulevard, and only $23.50!
311, in their auto-response emailing ways has told me that I can expect an initial response within 48 hours. Last year the official standby response was that a by-law officer would inspect within business 10 days, so, two weeks. I happen to know that there is a good chance that all 9 requests will not go to the same officer (how efficient). I also know that it is unlikely that they will be told to do anything about the noxious weeds - I will be lucky just to have them cut down. I also know that at least one of those property owners lives in like East St. Paul or something which means that they will allow extra time for the order to reach him. If I recall correctly I think they will be given something ridiculous like 7 days to fix the problems.

So, potentially (and highly likely) it will take until at least June 20th for any of these lawns to get mowed. Good thing the grass and weeds will have magically stopped growing until then.

Now, on a far less bitchy note, check out those flowers! Those are only part of what is going to make up Wolseley Project 3.0. This year my next door neighbours have stepped up their game - their yard is teeming with flowers so I'm going to have to really do a good job if I want to stay the prettiest house on the block!

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