Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conclusion

We, the Brauns, feel that we have exhausted our efforts in trying to deal with the day-to-day issues of 435 Cumberland’s pad and the abandoned tract of land. It’s a rare day that goes by that we do not have to deal with, make a phone call, get frustrated etc. about this untended piece of property.

Four months have passed since Murdoch stated they were waiting to hear back from the original contractor as to the pad’s original purpose. Is the original purpose of the pad really so important that it eclipses all these problems? Regardless of its original purpose, the pad is not used now, nor has it ever been used for anything except illegal activities. We are good friends with the previous owner of our building and so we know that these issues existed before we moved in to 427 Cumberland.

The issues of the pad and tract of land negatively affect the safety of the property and tenants of both 427 Cumberland Ave. and 435 Cumberland Ave. In the case of the latter, the tenants are immigrants and refugees who do not/cannot communicate on these matters, but we have seen how they negatively affect the tenants (as attested by the pouring out of water from the apartment window). We CAN NOT experience another year of relentless trouble. Spring is just around the corner and that means the beginning of dealing with pad patrons for another seven months before the snow flies again – we are disheartened, as we have no reason to believe that Murdoch has any intention of stepping up to the plate and taking care of their responsibilities. We also have no way of taking care of our own tenants who are lodging complaints with us about these problems.

We had lots of suggestions and willingness to help in the past. This is no longer the case. We withdraw forthwith all offers to help finance, or complete any of the work previously discussed. Murdoch, after nearly two years of discussions, has failed to show any initiative in taking care of these problems. They appear sympathetic to the issues when we present them but the lack of any action, over 20 months of dealings, gives us the impression that our complaints are not serious enough to warrant any real action or resolution. We have spent countless hours of our personal time trying to deal with these problems, and we have received absolutely nothing from Murdoch. Murdoch does not even return our phonecalls.

Murdoch has not done what is in their realm of responsibility to do as a property management company. As a result, we are forced to appeal to the City of Winnipeg to review the evidence of noncompliance in terms of the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law and to enforce the law as the City sees fit. Thank you for your time and we await your response.

Randy & Janine Braun
 Owners/residents 427 Cumberland Avenue
956-1402

Remedial Action (by the Brauns)

In waiting for action/resolutions from Murdoch, the Brauns have resorted to the following to temporarily deal with the problem and protect their tenants and property:

*Get the pad patron’s attention and take photos of them from 427 Cumberland entrance – sometimes this causes them to leave, sometimes they just smile and wave for the camera or just yell at us.

* Call West End and Downtown Biz Patrols to come deal with the patrons (often by the time they arrive the group in question has moved on).

* Approach the patrons in person and advise them that if they want to drink alcohol, to do so elsewhere.

* Go out and do work near the pad (eg. pick up litter in the 427 Cumberland parking lot, pull weeds, or sit in the car); sometimes patrons leave when other people are hanging around nearby.

* When driving up at night and there are people on the pad, lean on the horn until they leave.

* Pour sticky or wet substances on the bench to dissuade patrons from sitting down (gets washed away by the rain).

* Had a “Mosquito” device built (at our own cost) which generates an irritating high pitched sound (but the snow came before we could mount and test it).

* Pull up 435 Cumberland weeds when they start to seed to try to minimize spreading to 427 Cumberland.

* Clean up garbage on the pad/around dumpster especially when prospective guests come to look at the guest suite.) Etc...

Pending Action (by Murdoch)

The following are the only two “indications of action” from Murdoch so for:

* Lindsay suggested putting up a chain link fence on the tract of land and landscaping with thorny bushes. The last the Brauns heard of this (September 11, 2009) was that Murdoch was looking into getting fence building approval from the City of Winnipeg after which they would need to ask Manitoba Housing for funding (because 435 Cumberland has no funds). Murdoch has never followed up with the Brauns on this matter.

* On July 7, 2010 the Brauns started dealing with Ben at Murdoch. On October 7, 2011, the Brauns were informed that Ben had replaced Lindsay at Murdoch and that he was waiting to hear back from the original building contractor to find out for what purpose the pad was initially built before he attempted to do anything to it. As of February 2011, the Brauns are still waiting for followup from Murdoch about this.

Possible Solutions?

The Brauns have been meeting with and calling Murdoch regularly since July 2009. Interaction between the two parties has always been courteous and professional with Murdoch even showing concern for these issues. The Brauns have not only documented and pointed out the various problems, they have also presented potential solutions with a willingness to put money and resources towards bringing about the solutions. Unfortunately not one solution has been accepted by Murdoch to date, nor have they followed through on the few solutions they have suggested.

The following are some of the solutions we have suggested (with Murdoch’s response included):

* Jack hammer the pad (would cost $600; not approved; not in the budget);

* Jack hammer the bench - Brauns would provide the manpower and equipment if Murdoch covered the $100 equipment rental cost (removing the bench may affect the building in some unsubstantiated way) ;

* Close off the tract of land thoroughfare with a fence on the North & South ends – Brauns to provide finances and/or do the actual work (not possible - door closest to the pad is a fire exit that cannot be closed off to back lane);

* Get BFI to provide a side loading dumpster so that the pad can be used for what it was intended (BFI is phasing out side loading dumpsters over the next five years and so will no longer issue side loading dumpsters);

* Switch to City of Winnipeg garbage service so that a side loading dumpster can be placed on the pad and oversized garbage can be picked up at no charge (we are in a Free Pickup zone). Ironically, the Braun’s side loading City Autobin - which sits right next to the 435 Cumberland BFI bin - is picked up by a BFI side loading truck each week, and the City has confirmed there are definitely no plans to switch to another type of bin (to-date no response from Murdoch).

Other Concerns continued…..

Tenant safety: Tenants of 427 Cumberland have to walk by these groups of inebriated people calling out to them from the bench (which is only four meters away), in order to get to the parking lot or the back lane. This is a daily occurrence and can be very intimidating, especially for our female tenants, as well as for the regular guests hosted in our building (427 Cumberland houses a not-for-profit guest suite that accommodates visitors to Winnipeg such as student doctors, business people, family members caring for loved ones at Health Sciences and others. Potential guests have actually decided against staying in the guest suite due to the “welcoming efforts” of patrons on the pad).

427 Cumberland property security: The constant presence of people hanging out on the pad who are “under the influence”, poses security risks to 427 Cumberland (as well as 435 Cumberland as attested by all the graffiti that was finally cleaned up in 2010). For example, one summer night in 2010, partiers on the pad smashed a discarded porcelain saucer against one of the cars parked behind 427 Cumberland. In terms of graffiti, 427 Cumberland has had no graffiti of any kind in the last twelve years, except for tagging on the fence between 427 and 435 Cumberland, on the side facing 435 Cumberland. There is also a fence board that has to be repeatedly reaffixed because party-ers dislodge it.

Other Concerns Impacting Neighbouring Properties – “The Pad”

The Brauns biggest safety concern for their building and tenants centres on an unassuming concrete pad located on the north end of 453 Cumberland’s tact of land. This pad appears to have been built, but never used, for the dumpster (the pad’s placement makes it impossible for BFI’s front loading dump trucks to access a dumpster sitting on the pad so instead, the dumpster sits alongside the back lane, beside the pad). There is a concrete abutment along the building (probably to protect the building from damage from the dumpster) which is a very attractive “bench” and hangout for street people and drunks who are coming and going to the nearby Balmoral Hotel and beer store. This bench, which is sheltered by 435 Cumberland and partially hidden by the dumpster and neighbouring fence, can seat several people at once and directly faces the parking lot and main entrance of the neighbouring 427 Cumberland. Groups of “pad patrons” take turns throughout the day using the pad in whatever way they like (drinking alcohol, sniffing, passing out, getting together with their friends, having domestic disputes etc.). The West End Biz Patrol, the Winnipeg police and the neighbouring building tenants/owners can attest to the ongoing illegal activities that go on at “the pad” belonging to 435 Cumberland.

PART 5 - NOISE CONTROL - Noise nuisance prohibited

67(1) Except to the extent permitted under this By-law, a person must not make or continue, orcause to be made or continued, or own or harbour an animal that makes:
(a) an unreasonably loud, unnecessary or excessive noise or sound;
(b) a noise or sound which unreasonably disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of a reasonable individual of ordinary sensitivity; or
(c) a noise or sound which is so harsh, prolongued, unnatural or unusual in time and place so as to occasion unreasonable discomfort to any individual or so as to detrimentally affect residential properties or places of business. [“nuisance” means any condition, matter, thing or activity, other than a noise or sound regulated by Part 5 (Noise Control), which causes undue annoyance or offence to a reasonable individual of ordinary sensitivity occupying adjacent properties or dwelling units or living in the neighbourhood]

 The Brauns have witnessed “pad patrons” (see next page for explanation) yelling, crying, swearing, fighting and carousing at all hours of the day and night thereby disturbing our tenants. One of the tenants from 427 Cumberland has actually seen a tenant from 435 Cumberland open their window (high above the pad) and dump water on the pad patrons in an effort to get them to be quiet and leave.

Duty of business owners

57. The owner of a business that sells food or drinks in containers or papers must collect and dispose of the containers and papers discarded on the premises or on adjoining public or private land within a distance of 100 metres of the businesses.

435 Cumberland has a hall on the main level which is rented out for various functions (Folklorama, events, dances, etc.). There are two doors/fire exits that come directly out of the hall onto the tract of land and which are often open in the summer during these functions. Inevitably during and after such a function there are Styrofoam plates, cups, napkins etc. littered everywhere either by function attendees who ate/smoked outside the fire exits or by garbage bags that were either not properly tied or left on the ground near the dumpster and afterwards opened up by street people. In addition, the dumpster is usually overflowing after these events. The Brauns have, on many occasions, called Murdoch to schedule an extra garbage pick up after a function has resulted in an overflowing dumpster. Apparently function renters are responsible for proper disposal of all their garbage but this is not reinforced by Murdoch. This debris ends up on the adjacent 427 Cumberland property.

PART 3 - LITTERING AND GARBAGE - Duty of property owners/occupants

56. The owner and occupant of property must ensure that(b) a back lane in rear of the property; is kept free of garbage.

[See also section 6]. From the Braun’s regular observance, it seems that the onsite custodian does not feel responsible for any part of the East side of the building as well as the area around the dumpster (except for sporadic cleaning around the dumpster which only began after the Brauns repeatedly brought this concern to Murdoch and only when the Brauns call Murdoch to report that the backlane has gotten out of hand). Garbage spills out onto the back lane on a regular basis. See following page for a pictorial “Two Months-at-a-Glance” behind 435 Cumberland Avenue.

Vegetation on properties 8(3) Noxious weeds must be controlled on all properties.

There is no weed control that happens on the tract of land behind 435 Cumberland, but there is a well-traveled foot path that has no weeds on it). Other than that, weeds of every variety can be found all along the tract of land and have grown as high as 50”. They also spread onto the lawn and graveled areas at 427 Cumberland Ave. On July 13, 2010, the Brauns approached the Murdoch manager (Lindsay at the time) with their second report – this one detailing the weed problem and a variety of other issues (graffiti, garbage accumulation, the pad patrons etc.). At no point has Murdoch ever attempted in any way to deal with the weed problem.

6(2) Garbage must not be allowed to blow or otherwise be carried from a property onto other property, a street or a park.

Residents of 435 Cumberland regularly leave their household garbage bags next to the dumpster (instead of inside – maybe the bin is too high for them to reach or the lid is too heavy to lift?). The onsite custodian rarely cleans up around the dumpster and so garbage is constantly migrating onto the Braun’s property. Nonresident “patrons” to the dumpster pad (more on this later) leave behind their own debris (beer cans, Listerine bottles, discarded packaging, clothing, etc.), which also blows onto or is thrown (by the “pad patrons”) onto 427 Cumberland property.

Properties must be kept free of garbage

6(1) Garbage must not be allowed to accumulate upon a property.
 

The tract of land in question is the only thoroughfare on the block between Cumberland Avenue and the back lane and so many people walk through leaving garbage as they go. The wind blows in additional debris which becomes lodged among the weeds lining the land. On the back lane end, furniture is also discarded next to the dumpster on a regular basis, by 435 Cumberland tenants, and will sit for weeks, completely ignored by property management (during which time it is vandalized and the resulting debris strewn about the back lane), until the Brauns call Murdoch to let them know of the problem (even then, reminder calls are required). The onsite custodian does not deal with this ongoing issue.

For example: November 10 – two small pieces of furniture were discarded behind 435 Cumberland. November 16 - Brauns left a message with Ben Hnatiw - the new property manager at Murdoch - about the furniture. A few days later the furniture was still there but had by then been broken up into multiple pieces. November 20 - the broken furniture was still there and a sofabed was added. November 23 - Brauns called Ben about the sofabed, who said he would try to get it cleaned up by the end of the day. November 24 - the furniture was cleaned up. The Brauns have seen some quick responses from Murdoch to their calls about garbage needing to be cleaned up, but the problem is that action only ensues when the Brauns call Murdoch, often needing to call multiple times; the onsite custodian does not take any responsibility for dealing with discarded furniture.

In addition to the usual type of garbage that accumulates, the Brauns have also found human excrement on the tract of land (the defecation place of preference seems to be on the 427 Cumberland property line). If it wasn’t immediately removed by the Brauns, it would continue to accumulate in violation of the By-Law.

DIVISION 1 – BASIC MAINTENANCE


General obligation to maintain property
5. Properties must be maintained so that they do not substantially depreciate the value of other land and buildings in the vicinity.


The City has invested a lot of time and resources over the last few years in making amazing improvements to the Central Park area (in terms of safety, aesthetics, patrolling and meeting practical neighbourhood needs) much to the appreciation of the many families and individuals residing in the community. The city block along the north border of Central Park (Cumberland Avenue between Carlton and Gertie) is occupied by three residential buildings: 427 Cumberland (built in 1953), 411 Cumberland (built in 1963), and 435 Cumberland (built in 2005 and managed by Murdoch Management Inc). The two “veterans” on the block maintain their property with regular clean up of debris, weed control/lawn care, maintenance of the dumpster areas, etc. The newest member of the block – 435 Cumberland – has a tract of land running along the East side of their building (spanning from Cumberland Avenue right to the back lane) which is “out of sight and out of mind” to onsite maintenance staff and to Murdoch. It is an ongoing eyesore in a community which has taken great strides to re-establish itself, once again, as a beautiful, inviting, and safe part of Winnipeg.

In the last few years that the Brauns have lived in (and purchased in June 2009) the neighbouring 427 Cumberland property, this tract of land has been completely ignored by the owners/property management company. In fact, when the Brauns first approached Murdoch in July 2009 about their concerns, the manager at the time, Lindsay Stewart, was not even aware that this tract of land existed.

The Brauns approached the site manager at 411 Cumberland to request a meeting to discuss graffiti on their buildings. Before even having the meeting, their board had already approved the cleanup, hired a private contractor, and completed the work. In contrast, the Brauns approached Murdoch about graffiti clean-up, did the leg-work to find a free graffiti-cleanup program, and hand delivered the waiver. Murdoch acknowledged being familiar with such programs, expressed concern over timely follow through, but hesitantly signed the waiver, allowing the graffiti to be cleaned up. West End Biz completed the work immediately and continues to monitor and remove any new tagging.

 





427 Cumberland Ave

I am Randy. My wife Janine and I own 427 Cumberland Ave. Our neighbour is 435 Cumberland Ave. It is a new building. It is managed by Murdoch Management. Today I am working on a document to present to the City of Winnipeg Community By-law Enforcement Services. We are very disappointed in Murdoch Management, because they are doing absolutely nothing to help solve any of our problems. I will be posting pictures that show our problems in detail.