Dear Urban Diplomat: How do I get my brother to stop eating Chick-fil-A?

He won’t stop raving about it

I live with my brother, and ever since the new Chick-fil-A opened in Toronto, he won’t stop raving about it. Seriously—we live across the street and he brings it home for dinner at least once a week. I can’t get behind an establishment with anti-LGBTQ ties, regardless of how good their chicken sandwich might be. How can I convince him to take his business elsewhere? —Crying Fowl, Yonge and Church

Some people don’t care that Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches come with a heaping helping of homophobia, but it’s worth explaining to your sibling why the franchise leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Offer to give him a rundown of some of the anti-LGBTQ organizations Chick-fil-A has supported. A better sense of where his dollars are going might convince him to spend them someplace else. If all efforts to appeal to his ethics fail, try his mortality: those sandwiches clock in at 19 grams of fat apiece. Throw in some waffle fries and you’re up to 37.

Dear Urban Diplomat, When my partner and I moved in together a couple of years ago, we already had three cats between us. Last week, she “surprised” me by bringing home two more after her volunteer shift at the shelter. They’re siblings, and she said she couldn’t bear to see them separated. Five cats seems excessive (and possibly even illegal). Am I being cold-hearted by asking her to rehome them? —Kitty-Cornered, Riverdale

The law won’t help you here. In Toronto, the maximum number of animals allowed in a single dwelling is, shockingly, nine—you can have three dogs and six cats. So unless you also have a band of ferrets or a flock of budgies, housing five kitties is perfectly legal. It can also be the stuff of nightmares: the amount of cat hair building up on your couch in a week alone is a chilling thought. Just because cats fare better in bonded pairs doesn’t mean they need to bond under your roof. Animals require lots of care, and the decision to add more to the family should be a mutual one. If you’re willing to house them until you hook them up with a loving—and hopefully less crowded—home, there’s nothing cruel about suggesting this adoption be temporary.

Dear Urban Diplomat, My condo handed me a $300 ticket for consuming alcohol on one of the common patios. There are signs in the elevators clearly stating that booze isn’t allowed outside, but there’s no mention of a fine. At first, I refused to pay it, but now they’ve revoked my key-fob access. I think it’s a little harsh: they could at least have given me a warning. Do I have any recourse? —Brew-Haha, King West

The Condominium Act prohibits the issuing of fines, so, yes, on that score you have recourse. However, condo boards do have certain rights around limiting access to amenities. My advice is to pick your battles: if you want to get back on the deck, suck it up and stop with your scofflaw ways.

Dear Urban Diplomat, My son is between jobs and has been living in our basement apartment for the past few months until he gets back on his feet again. We’re charging him $700, the same rent we charged our old tenants, which is quite low considering the area and amenities. He’s two months behind on rent, yet he manages to find cash to make weekly Amazon Prime purchases. How do my husband and I tell him that he needs to get his budgetary priorities sorted out? —Bargain Basement, the Annex

While you may be willing to forgive your son’s late rent because he just “had to” buy a Vitamix this month, his future landlords won’t be so understanding. You’re not doing him any favours by cutting him slack. Let him know that you’re aware of his weekly purchases and that he needs to set aside some of that cash for the rent he owes. Remind him that you’re there to help, but that you rely on income generated from your basement unit. Wanting the best for your kid means helping him acquire good financial habits—not just a weekly Amazon haul.


Dear Urban Diplomat, This fall, my wife and I decided we didn’t want to deal with lawn upkeep, and we’ve been seriously considering switching to Astroturf. We’re hesitant because we’ve heard stories of the city ordering people to remove their artificial grass. Is there a way we can ditch the dirt without landing a big fine? —The Grass Is Always Greener, Mimico

Turf the Astroturf. The city requires that yards be made up of at least 75 per cent “soft landscaping,” i.e. natural materials. Surfaces like grass may need more maintenance than strips of oversaturated-green nylon, but they also absorb rainwater, and cool and remove carbon dioxide from the air we breathe. If you think the city’s annual floods are bad now, imagine the chaos that would ensue if everyone rendered their yards water resistant. No one is expecting you to have a Stepford Wives–calibre lawn, but if you can’t keep up your grass, opt for some other ground cover or invest in a landscaper.

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