Yes, two weeks before a presidential election, we visit Canada. You know–to scope out city council meetings (and real estate).
It may be October up there but, folks, the Grand Forks city council was HEATED like a hot tub in Cabo!
“I brought forward for your consideration five properties,” that are “unsightly,” the city’s bylaw officer announced.
This being Canada, Councilor Beverly Tripp politely raised her hand to speak. “I would be wondering about perhaps seeing some visuals of these properties. Would that be possible? I’d be willing to go down to these places and take a look at them.”
“The latter would not be appropriate, to visit the site,” Mayor Frank Konrad gruffly shot her down. Luckily, a field trip would not be necessary: we have pictures. Okay, let’s take a look at this so-called unsight–
“Is it appropriate to show photos when there’s a live stream on the Internet?” Councilor Colleen Ross pointed directly at me through the camera. “That would be my suggestion–turn off the camera. We’re showing people’s personal property.”
The mayor didn’t hesitate. “That’s probably a reasonable request.”
WHAT?! HOW DARE YOU? I’LL SUE! I’LL BURN DOWN A MAPLE TREE! PUT DOWN THAT LENS CAP OR–
Listening to the bylaw officer narrate the photos, I was f–ing livid. “That is a picture taken through a bramble hedge. There’s three snowmobiles and a pile of other debris. There’s also two other vehicles in the front yard,” he said. I’ll take his word because YOU BLINDED ME.
Suddenly, a giant hand removed the lens cap. Sweet light, we meet again! Just in time for the property owner to make her defense:
“I’ve been out of the country for the last few months. I have come to ask for an extension.” Her tone was more indignant than apologetic. “So, yeah. What can you do for me?”
Mayor Konrad was unimpressed with her unrepentence. “Is the statement that this has been going on for a year affirmative?”
She waved him off. “The vehicles weren’t mine. They were my husband’s. When he passed away, I had no need for this ‘hobby’ he had.”
The mayor paused carefully, not wanting to berate a widow. “If you’re looking for an extension, how long are you looking for?”
“A month. Jetlag was huge,” she chuckled.
Councilor Tripp was oozing with empathy. “I really fail to see any grossly unsightly premises there. I really do feel it would be appropriate to give her the month leeway to work at getting the vehicles removed.”
“The vehicles for sure. The rest of the stuff I can’t promise because of the way the weather is right now,” the citizen sneakily attempted to weasel out of cleanup duty.
Mayor Konrad desperately tried to sound the alarm that the council was being taken advantage of.
“Next spring is NOT really a viable option,” he glanced around uneasily. But the council had chosen a side–and it wasn’t his.
“She’s been away. She’s only been back a week!” nodded Councilor Christine Thompson sympathetically.
“We would be setting a precedent here–” the mayor tried to argue, before Councilor Ross interrupted him.
“No. That’s the beauty of community action. We can work with individuals based on their needs,” she checkmated him.
With the women of the council united, the mayor folded. Fine, one month it is.
“That is wonderful,” the citizen sighed. “Absolutely!”