Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It's a conspiracy. Mysterious buildings appearing out of nowhere, their purpose obscure, no one claiming them, no one caring about them. Except the fire chief. That's the conspiracy part. They (whoever "they" are) haul these derelict structures from who-knows-where, and prop them up on vacant properties just to taunt me.

The truth is, they know I can't do anything about it. Anybody can build anything they want anytime, anywhere, and I have nothing to say about it.

The Ontario Building Code has plenty to say about proper construction, but that isn't my ball of wax, so to speak. In a city like Thunder Bay, you have to traipse down to city hall and get a permit before you stick a shovel in the ground, or cut your teepee poles, or start piling blocks of snow to make your igloo. Upsala has no city hall, and no one to issue a building permit. Only a lunatic fire chief who paces around his office muttering about phantom, ownerless buildings.

Occasionally you do find an owner, usually in cases where he or she needs something from the fire chief. Like a fire inspection so another agency would grant a particular necessary license. Fire inspections are things that I can do, albeit unwillingly. The problem is the Fire Code hinges on the Building Code - if it isn't built properly to start with, a fire inspection is about as useful as a toothless beaver.

I approached the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing about this Building Code dilemma.

me: "Mr. MMAH Bureaucrat, does the Building Code apply to unorganized townships?"

bureaucrat: "Yes, of course. It applies to all of Ontario. It's the ONTARIO Building Code. (duh)."

me: "Who does inspections out here?"

bureaucrat: "Um, inspections? You mean building inspections?"

me: "Yep, those are the ones. Would you mind making the 20 hour drive from Toronto to do one for me?"

bureaucrat: "Not a chance." (not his exact words, but you get the drift)

me: "So the rules are in place, but you aren't going to do anything to enforce them."

bureaucrat: "That sums it up pretty well." (again, not his exact words)

It was an interesting and useless conversation. It makes about as much sense as the police saying, "Everyone pretty-please drive the speed limit out of the goodness of your heart, but we aren't going to give tickets unless you live in Thunder Bay."

Even with the collective Canadian conscience being as good as it is, you can imagine how well self-compliance works, speed limits, Building Codes, it doesn't matter. People will do it their own way unless someone makes them do it differently. My turn to say, "DUH!"

On a lighter, more useful and comprehensible theme, if you've always wanted to buy a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil, now is your big opportunity. Click here.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tim,

    Maybe we can buy the t Rex bones, put them in all the old buildings! Then I bet you'd get someone to come and inspect. :)


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