Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How about a REAL change to the policy?

So Sammy is trying to make it look like he wants to do something about the arson problem in this city. That's cute. I say trying because although part of the problem is that there is only pickup once a week, it is certainly not the whole problem, or even the biggest.

According to this article in the Metro residents will still have to report the garbage under this "new" system. See, that's the biggest part of the problem - it's purely a complaint driven system.Call it a hunch, but I don't think the people doing the dumping are going to call it in, and if they happen to live in a cluster of other like minded people then it could take quite a while before it gets called in. The problem as well is these piles grow quickly once they get established. What starts out as a mattress and a chair quickly turns into giant piles.
 Now, most of the North/West End is not filled with people who don't care about their community, quite the opposite in fact. There is always talk from suburbanites who don't quite "get it" that it's not a simple matter of charging the house where the garbage is. Often, garbage ends up behind neat and tidy houses with caring owners, that's why it's called DUMPING. Is it really fair to charge the homeowner when they didn't do it? By that logic, suburbanites beware, there will no longer be such a thing as a hit and run or vandalism claim for your car - I mean, honestly, you shouldn't have had your car parked where someone could harm it.

So, for any of my readers who aren't lucky enough to know the ins and outs of the system, let me break it down for you.
  1. Email 311 (having a nice tidy paper trail makes it easier to hold them accountable later with times/dates)
  2. Wait up to 48 hours for a response. Hope no one lights the mattress someone put up against your fence/garage on fire
  3. Get email back from 311 asking you to clarify if it's actually in the lane or on private property.
Thank you for contacting Winnipeg 311.  Due to a new process set up by the City we would need you to clarify if the items included are in the lane or on private property before we would be able to a request to have these items removed.

Private property includes:

1) The 1 to 1.5 foot section of property adjacent to the lane behind or beside a person's fence or garage is considered their property and not part of the lane.
2) If the items are on the person's driveway (or part on their driveway, part on the lane)
3) If the items are in the yard.
4) If the items are beside a garbage bin as The City of Winnipeg no longer owns any bins and these are all considered private property.

Once we have this information we can forward these issues to the correct department.
    1. Get frustrated because blogger started the count again at one even though this is number four and you can't figure out how to change it.
    2. Email back 311 clarify that it's not on private property (you must say this even if it's leaning on your fence, which by their definition IS private property - otherwise your complaint ends there and you still have the problem).
    3. Wait up to 48 hours for a response. Hope that the couch that has joined the mattress also doesn't get set on fire.
    4. Hurray! A response. Oh crap, it says that it will be investigated within 3 business days. It's now Friday. And it's cheque day*. Cross your fingers and toes that the mattress, couch, and their new friend, Mr. entertainment unit don't get lit on fire over the weekend.
    5. Mythical inspector comes by on Wednesday, verifies that it's abandoned, and that you don't secretly store your extra furniture in the lane.
    6. Oh crap, if today is Wednesday that means by the time he puts in his request for the pick up it is too late to be 48 hours from the next pick up, which at least here in a lot of the North End is Friday. So it gets scheduled for the next Friday.
    7. The inspector then drives by all of the other garbage in the lane and doesn't schedule it for pick up because it hasn't been reported. Even though they see all of it and could add it to the pick up sheet. It's just not how it works people, someone has to call that in or it's invisible to inspectors. That's my favourite step.
    8. It's next Friday! Yay! Wait, why didn't it get picked up? Oh, Emterra sucks doesn't have enough trucks/their truck is broken/who the hell knows...
    9. Seriously start praying, even though you're not religious, that the mattress, couch, loveseat, entertainment unit, bags of dirty diapers, chair and broken kitchen table don't get lit on fire.
    10. Sometime Saturday it hopefully all gets picked up. It might not though because the original ticket didn't list all of those items.

    I bet you think I'm exaggerating. I wish I was.

    So, sure, adding another pick up day will help a little, but if they want real change this is what needs to happen:
    1. No more of this complaint driven b.s. - if they are serious about wanting to prevent arson they need to just send trucks up and down the lanes picking up stuff
    2. If that can't happen because of some b.s. clause in the contract that was cooked up, then the by-law inspectors who spend all of their time driving to specific addresses to write down only the problems at that address need to be dispatched to just drive around generating the request for pick up tickets. Then that garbage MUST be picked up within 24 hours and ideally must never be out over the weekend (when crime really does seem to spike).
    Saying that an extra pick up day will be added is merely putting a band-aid on something that needs stitches. As well, if the by-law folk were actively spending time looking for the garbage they might also be more likely to catch people in the act. I won't even bother to get into how ridiculous the process of getting people fined for that is - lets just say hopefully you have a smartphone set permanently on video and you get close enough to videotape clear pictures of people/license plates/and the garbage they dump - all without getting your face bashed in.

    *Cheque day for those who are fortunate enough not to experience it, is the day when various government cheques come out (welfare, child tax, etc) and some (and I'm certainly not saying ALL, because lots of people have just fallen on hard times but are good people) of those recipients choose to spend that money on drugs/alcohol instead of using it for its intended purpose. This means that people who are clearly a bad judge of things are out and about making bad decisions because they are heavily under the influence. It's sort of like how even some people with jobs who get their paycheck on a Friday and blow it all by Sunday morning and spend the next two weeks bumming cash and smokes from you; except that instead of it being your one friend with bad judgement, it's him, all of his friends and some of their friends and they are more predisposed to lighting things on fire and stabbing each other. It's really fun, you should come see sometime. <--- i="">sarcasm font required.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Winnipeg is the smallest big city on Earth

    I know, the title of this post isn't exactly news to anyone, but I just had another one of those extremely crazy moments. Now, this one doesn't involve me stalking houses on the MLS (that's a first!) but it is pretty wild anyway. For more of my weird small world stories go back to this post (it also links to another) and this one.

    Okay, so when I'm not busy planting flowers in my boulevard for hooligans to destroy and buying arborite tables, god how I love arborite tables, I hold down a job, well, two actually, but that's not the point here. So one of the things I do at my job is I help people find programs that might be able to help them fix up their houses. Now some of the programs I know about are city-wide, however, I specifically work with residents in the North End.

    So today, I popped out for lunch and came back to a voicemail. She was good enough to leave her address as I request of people (makes it much easier to know what info to call them back with) which happened to be in Wolseley. Which more specifically happened to be in my BFF-since-I-was-6-years-old's old house!
    Seriously, what on earth are the odds of this? Now, I tried calling her back, but no luck reaching her so far; I am absolutely desperate to know how she got my number (since I work with a North End organization). Did one of my business cards get wedged in a baseboard? To give a little extra perspective, I get maybe 3-4 calls a year tops from people who live outside the North End. Mind blown.

    *Update: she got my number from a friend who does live in the North End, but it's still crazy*

    Another quick what are the odds sort of story. There is a house on Home St., near Sargent that was once occupied by a girl I worked with at Grapes, I used to drive her home sometimes. Then one day in the early days of facebook I joined a group that talked about home renovations and things and they organized a house tour of some houses in the West End. That house was part of it (then owned by different people). Fast forward another year or two. Since I stalk the MLS, I noticed it come up for sale, and then when I noticed a friend congratulating another friend on the house purchase on Home St., I felt compelled to check to see which one. Yup. Same house. So I now know 3 people that have owned the same house, in a neighbourhood that I am not a part of, and those 3 people are not remotely connected to one another in any other way.

    Do these sorts of things happen to you? We are a city of about 750,000 - it just seems insane to me to have things like this happen this often.