The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged neighbours in ways we did not expect. Neighbours have come to rely on each other for friendship in times of isolation, we have lent out our tools, borrowed a cup of sugar, or provided child care. In some cases neighbours have grown closer in this time. Still, in other places, the pressure of the pandemic has brought tensions to neighbourhoods. Here is a round up of neighbourhood stories that reveal the strange challenges that can grow between neighbours. These conflicts are odd, but reveal in us the importance of nurturing good things between us and those around us, long before they get out of hand, like they have in these unusual stories:
Trouble is brewing in Windsor, Ontario as one neighbour has planted an expansive cannabis garden, with some plants growing over 11 feet tall and letting off a strong skunk odour. The smell, says the neighbours, is overpowering and they want it to stop.
In Calgary there is an unlikely battle between the street preacher Artur Pawlowski and his neighbours. Pawlowski is known for maintaining large gatherings in spite of public health orders, and it is his neighbours who are now setting up signs telling him to be a better neighbour. In an ironic twist, the neighbours are reminding this preacher to “be Christ-like” and “love thy neighbour” while he calls his neighbours “wicked, evil, and hateful.”
In Alberta the 911 system has received some strange calls this past year and the RCMP is reminding people that you should not call 911 if your neighbour is bothering you. Calls include someone complaining that their neighbour is “plowing snow incorrectly,” and another; “the neighbour’s kids strum the guitar every time I go for a smoke.” The 911 system is for emergencies only and any small dispute between neighbours should be handled in other ways, they say.
In Oakville a woman with a therapy pig is dealing with new stress because her neighbours don’t approve of the pig. They pig has been her pet for a long time, but she says her neighbours do not understand the value of her pig, glare at her, and have written to get the pig removed.
In Halifax they are on the search for stories for a new television show, “Nightmare Neighbour Next Door.” The show, which will talk about bad experiences between neighbours, is now in its eighth series.
While stories of smelly cannabis, therapy pigs, angry preachers, and strange 911 calls are clearly out of the ordinary, some of us have experienced times when life with our neighbours has been stressful. Whether your neighbour is parking in the “wrong place” or walking on your lawn, even small things can become big things when trust erodes between us and others.
We can find ways to care for each other, listen to each other, and have empathy for those around us long before things get out of hand. We have the resources to foster peace in our communities and deal gently with each other. We hope that shows like “Nightmare Neighbour Next Door” will not easily find stories of hate and bitter conflict here in Chestermere. For this to grow, it starts here with us, today.