Dear Urban Diplomat: Friends want to visit my newborn, but they’re skeptical about getting tested

Dear Urban Diplomat: Friends want to visit my newborn, but they’re skeptical about getting tested

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I had our first child during the pandemic. Since then, a couple of my friends from grade school have asked to meet the baby. They’re the type of people who regularly post stuff on social media about Covid being a government-orchestrated hoax, so I said they should get tested first, to which they replied: “Sure, I guess I’ll give my DNA to the government.” I’m a little unsettled by their reaction. Thoughts?
—Friends With Deficits, the Annex

If these “friends” aren’t willing to take reasonable steps to make sure everyone is safe before meeting your newborn, then my advice to you is to get new friends. People are entitled to post their bizarre (and, by the way, demonstrably false) opinions on the internet. But you’re well within your parental rights to tell them to stay the hell away from your family. If, for reasons I can’t fathom, you want to maintain these relationships, tell your Covid-denier buds that you’re waiting until the vaccine is widely disseminated before letting anyone see the baby. Hopefully they’re not anti-vaxxers, too.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live on the middle floor of a three-storey townhouse. Recently, after one of my afternoon at-home workouts, the occupants from the lower-floor unit sent me a text asking me to stop jumping, since it was making it difficult for them to work. I’m happy to do the workouts whenever it’s least obtrusive, but I’m not sure I want to alter my workout (regular squats just don’t have the impact of jump squats). Am I being unreasonable?
—Jumping Jack, Etobicoke

Per the city’s noise ordinance, you’re allowed to make up to 70 decibels of non-continuous noise between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., as measured from your neighbour’s apartment. So you’re probably in the clear. That said, with a lot of people shifting to WFH, it’s important to be considerate; you would probably find it distracting if, for example, your neighbours started blasting Metallica during your Zoom calls. Feel free to continue the workouts, but give your neighbours a sense of when you’ll be jumping around, and consider purchasing a yoga mat to help soften the blow of those jump squats.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My husband and I recently purchased a home in midtown Toronto. We want to trim the canopy of our neighbour’s very large oak trees, which hang far over the fence into our yard. My husband approached the neighbours to give them a heads-up, even offering to pay for trimming on any of their other trees, but the woman went completely berserk, cursing and threatening to sue if we touched her tree. We really do not want the hassle (and cost) of arguing with lawyers. How should we proceed?
—Prune Squad, Midtown

Legally, you’re free to channel your inner Edward Scissorhands, so long as the foliage and the person trimming said foliage are on your property, and
the tree doesn’t get damaged in the process. Unfortunately, staying within the law doesn’t guarantee that your tree-hugging neighbour won’t get litigious. You and your husband need to discuss how badly you want the trees trimmed, then weigh that against the potential financial and emotional costs of your neighbour’s wrath. You may decide that improving the aesthetics of your property is not worth the fallout.   

Dear Urban Diplomat,
In the last month, coyotes have killed two pets in my neighbourhood. I’ve got a couple of dogs myself, so I’ve been quite concerned. A few of the neighbours reported the incident to Toronto Animal Services, but for whatever reason, they’ve been slow to respond. The neighbours are furious. I’m a hunter, so I’ve been asked about “solving the issue.” Any advice?
—Trigger Man,
Lawrence Park 

Citizens are prohibited from hunting or discharging a firearm in the city, so don’t even think about getting your gun. The best thing to do is be patient and wait for animal services to respond. In the meantime, tell all the neighbours to make sure their garbage bins are sealed, since urban coyotes are attracted by human food sources. If you happen to encounter a wily coyote, puff out your chest and start yelling. It might make you look deranged, but it’s preferable to turning the neighbourhood into a shooting range.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live in a triplex with two other tenants. During Covid, they both moved out to the suburbs, leaving their units empty. I recently learned that the landlord dropped rent prices by $300 for those units to attract new tenants. I asked him for a similar reduction, but he refused. Is there anything else I can do?
—Rent Control, Queen West

According to the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants are only entitled to a rent reduction if the taxes on their building have decreased by 2.5 per cent or more in a year or if there’s a cut to amenities, neither of which happened in your situation. You might have to wait until your lease expires to renegotiate your rent. The good news: prices for one-bedrooms in Toronto have dropped 20 per cent during Covid, so you’ll have plenty of leverage.