Neighbours: the condemned-house-next-door edition

If you read my previous post about Kevin Costner filming a movie in our next door neighbour’s house, I’m sure you’ve been muttering the following script under your breath: “Ruth, it is just sooo fascinating that Kevin “Prince of Thieves” Costner filmed a movie in the house directly north of yours. There must be something even MORE amazing going on in the house directly south of yours. Please, please, fill us in on what is happening there.”

You are in luck, because that is exactly what I am going to do right now. The punchline is that NOTHING is going on in the house on the other side of us.

Plywood. So hot right now. Plywood.

The house has been condemned for quite a few years. Eight, I think? And after eight years, I’m finally starting to get a leeetle bit annoyed about the situation. Sometimes, it takes a while for my brain/emotions to catch up with the reality of a situation. Let me illustrate the process with the following timeline:

Years 1+2: So relieved to no longer have neighbours who scream at each other at all hours of the day and night. Neighbours are overrated.

Years 3+4: We are living in Bangkok and worrying that the school we teach at may actually be a massive money laundering operation. Not thinking about house in Calgary.

Years 5+6: Uh, guess no one is using this driveway, so thanks. We’ll adopt it. Too bad that sassy group of neighbourhood kids lit a bonfire in the backyard and torched our shared fence in the process. That kinda sucked.

On the positive side, the new angle of the fence gives our backyard that coveted “undulating” look

Year 7: Ask bylaw to board up windows. Ask bylaw to disassemble shed-like structure of bone-dry wood located immediately below our bedroom. Ask police what to do about the house. They tell us to ask bylaw.*

Year 8, Part one: Homeless man casually saunters out of the backyard next door while I’m unloading the car one day. He tells me that he likes to light up and hang out there quite often. The following week, he sets up camp in the backyard, complete with a tent and dartboard. A skunk (who I am fairly certain lives under the condemned house) saunters under our porch and sprays our other neighbours’ dog. Rich aroma of skunk permeates atmosphere for several days.

If I were a skunk, I would definitely set up shop under this deck.

Part two: Police evict camper dude. Bylaw swings by to check on property. Bylaw says to call pest control on Mr. Skunk. Bylaw sends property owners/managers to check on property. Company nails board over the gap in the back fence. Problem solved!

Aaaand that brings us to the present day. I keep telling myself that surely my buddies at bylaw will pull through for me this time, as I watch our property value plummet into the storm drain. But seriously, I am preparing to “badger” (closely related to skunks! Ha!) my city councilor to do something about this property. I don’t want to be an uptight NIMBY neighbour, but I’d rather not experience heart palpitations every time I smell a campfire. If anyone has any hot tips for dealing with properties like this, let me know. Because in the next eight years, I am going to get pretty worked up.

*not throwing any shade on bylaw. They were very helpful.

4 thoughts on “Neighbours: the condemned-house-next-door edition”

  1. Not the point of the post but I can recommend a (literal) solution for dealing with skunk odor, especially on dogs: a mix of 4 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 tsp. dish soap. We have used this on our very hairy dog when he got skunked and it works. (It is also good for neutralizing other objectionable odors on surfaces and fabrics.)


  2. Can the fire department use it as an opportunity for training?

    First for practicing searching inside structures and then set it afire for fire fighting training and finally for training on identifying the causes of a fire.

    Invite film makers out for filming stock footage of a house fire.

    Invite the town to watch and use it as a recruiting tool for re routing fire fighters.


    1. That is a truly fascinating idea! I would love to see it happen, but unfortunately, the house is owned by a large affordable housing group, so I think there is little chance of that getting approved…


      1. I guess where I live “condemned building” means a government agency has declared the building unsafe and will need repairs made, or be demlished, by a deadline…otherwise the agency tears it down and bills the property owner.


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