There was a story on CBC Ottawa’s morning show Tuesday about some people in Manor Park who went from door to door in their neighbourhood trying to find out who complained to the City about their basketball nets. Apparently, the basketball nets are on the edge of the road, which is a violation of a city bylaw that doesn’t allow streets to be blocked.
Nine homeowners mustered a group of 30 adults and children who went from door to door until they discovered who complained. It turns out that the complainant is a an elderly woman who believes the nets are a safety hazard. The group had proposed putting reflective tape on the nets, but that wasn’t enough to cause her to withdraw her complaint. According to the story, if she withdraws her complaint the city will drop the matter.
The ringleader of the group, Natalie Belovic, says that the bases of the nets are filled with water or sand making them too heavy to easily move them.
This bylaw is the same one that kids playing street hockey ran afoul of a couple of years ago. In that case, the city eventually relented and passed a motion declaring children had the right to play street hockey. Belovic is quoted as saying…
“We actually would like them to take the same stand exactly as they did with the road hockey situation, which is just basically to turn a blind eye and ignore the quote-unquote problem”
And she went on to say that she still hopes that some compromise with the elderly lady can be reached, though I’m doubtful because she ran to the press immediately rather than try a bit harder to work something out.
Personally, I’m on the side of the elderly lady in this case. She called and reported a problem in her neighbourhood. The City sent a bylaw officer out to ask the people to move their nets back on to their own properties, which is the appropriate response on the city’s part. The owners don’t appear to have been given tickets for the violations (yet).
The owners’ response was to form a posse and hunt down the person and try to intimidate her into withdrawing her complaint. When the complainant stood her ground, they went to the media to try to get the court of public opinion to convince the lady to change her mind – basically more bullying.
According to the story, some of the people have already moved their nets, but Belovic and a couple of others haven’t (yet) because their properties are sloped, presumably meaning the nets would topple over.
Should the city “turn a blind eye” to the situation? No. This is not like the street hockey situation a couple of years ago for a couple of reasons. First, street hockey nets are temporary and moved when someone yells “car!” and they aren’t stored in the street. The basketball nets are, by Belovic’s admission, too heavy to be moved easily, so they’re not temporary.
Second, street hockey has been around for several generations of kids and it probably pre-dated the bylaw, while these freestanding basketball nets are a relatively new phenomenon. Growing up, I, like many kids in my neighbourhood, had a basketball net mounted over the garage door. In fact, if you watch this video that Belovic has on YouTube promoting Manor Park (she’s a realtor), you’ll see a number of houses in Manor Park have basketball nets over their garage doors. If Belovic et al. can’t have freestanding nets on their property, they could install one over their garage doors instead, or they could probably take a spade and level out a little square of dirt on the edge of their lawns, put a couple of patio stones down and have a nice, legal place to put their basketball nets. If they don’t the city should cite them, even if the complaint is withdrawn.
A tip o’ the hat to Legends of America who had the photo on their site.