在中国没有一家用来解决生活中出现的各种麻烦的官方机构。从深夜舞会的大声喧哗到给你的健康或安全造成隐患的不良行为，你那不守规矩的邻居会让你平静的生活环境受到干扰 – 而你要么默默忍受、要么铤而走险，暴力反击，除此之外没有更好的其他选择。
In China, there is no system to address real atrocities in life. if your bad neighbour’s behaviour causes disruption to your peaceful living environment – from a loud noise of an overnight party to acts causing health or safety hazard, you may have either to suck it up or to risk violence by taking the law into your own hands.
In Canada, such matters can be addressed through private complaints. Toronto 311 services and cellphone has made it incredibly easy to report a bad neighbour.
I filed a complaint against a neighbour at my work -- a Buddhist temple that had regularly left food items – from naked oranges to cans of cheese and yogurt without a lid on -- scattered around a tree on the side walk. The food got rotten quickly during hot summer days, and attracted waves of flies, mosquitoes and bees, creating health risks for people walking by or enjoying their lunch break outside. The food-scattering had lasted for weeks on end – even after I approached the owner with my concerns over health risks. But it took only a 311-phone call to see these foul food items, along with the flight of insects surrounding them disappear from the site altogether.
Reporting by-law violations is a common practice among responsible members of the Canadian society. Each year, the city of Toronto launches roughly 50,000 investigations into property or environmental concerns – from noise and fence height to dog biting and grow-ops – mostly resulting from residents’ complaints.
Bob, one of the guys from my home neighbourhood is a frequent complainant – who took upon himself to act like a “neighbourhood inspector”. Resulting from his complaints, a rooming house on the street was shut down by the fire department, and his next-door neighbour occupied by college students received a thousand dollar-bill after their half-body - long grass was cut by the city contractors.
“If we want to maintain the property value in our neighbourhood, we should do something… Reporting violations has also been part of residents’ civil responsibilities,” he said.
But neither Bob nor myself were among the vexatious Complainants who roam the street with a measuring tape, making numerous 311 phone calls about neighbours over trivia matters such as fence height or an occasional dog bark. In fact, by-law complaints could be a source of resentful and angry disputes in the neighbourhood communities as those involved would quickly lose perspective and blow the whole thing out of proportion.
Instead of calmly addressing their problems that caused disruptions to other residents, some complained party would dwell on the negative and embark on a journey of revenge, leaving matters spiraling out of control. In some cases, 311 complaints had led full-blown court battles that cost thousands of dollars of legal fees and years of fighting and arguments in court. According to the Star, in Scarborough Centre ward last year, one resident made nearly 100 complaints about fence height, hedges, long grass and other obscure infractions, mostly in retaliation for complaints he received from others. These vexatious complaints can cost homeowners hundreds of dollars to appeal or thousands to fix a minor offence – such as lower a fence or reverse a slightly widened driveway.
Two days after filing the complaint against the Buddhist temp in my workplace neighbourhood, I received an “illegal parking” warning from a parking by-law officer, who had never shown up in the area before. But instead of acting on my speculations that I’ve become one of the victims of “revenge complaints”, I calmly pulled my car away and decided to not take any actions to avoid further conflicts with the neighbour.
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