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Dear Urban Diplomat: We asked my 10-year-old daughter’s friends for proof of vaccination prior to her birthday party

Dear Urban Diplomat, My husband and I are having a birthday party for our 10-year-old daughter, so we asked each parent to show us proof of their kid’s vaccination. In the end, three families sent us a joint email saying their children wouldn’t be able to attend unless we ditched the vax rule. We want to protect everyone’s health, but we don’t want to sabotage our daughter’s party. What should we do? —Unhappy Birthday, Morningside Heights

Rather than debating viruses and vaccines with these other parents, try a simpler solution: plan an outdoor activity. Take the kids to Morningside Park, where they can skate, build snowmen and roast s’mores in a fire pit. If you celebrate outside, the chances of transmission are extremely low. Do it right and the kids won’t just stay out of harm’s way—they’ll have a blast, too.


Dear Urban Diplomat, I’ve been taking my dry cleaning to the same place for the last five years and I really like the owner. But recently, he lost my new Patagonia coat. When I asked him to cover the cost, he said he didn’t have the money. I sort of feel bad for him, and I can tell his business is struggling during the pandemic (people are clearly less inclined to dry clean their work-from-home wear). But this was a $500 coat! What’s the best way to handle it? —Lost Cause, Thistletown

Tell him you know times are tough and that he can pay you back in instalments if necessary. Or, considering he’s strapped for cash, ask whether he would be willing to pay you back slowly in free dry cleaning. Should he continue to stonewall you, tell him you’ll just have to take your dirty laundry elsewhere. A good businessperson will see the value in keeping a loyal customer.


Dear Urban Diplomat, I access my garage through a laneway behind our house. Every morning at 7 a.m., like clockwork, the same guy parks in the alley, right in front of my garage door, while he runs across the street to get coffee. Last week, when he blocked me in, I politely asked him to park elsewhere, perhaps on the street. He offered a sincere apology (or so it seemed) and drove off, and we both went about our day. But the next day, he went right back to parking in the same spot. It’s maddening. If he blocks me in again, I’m going to lose it. What should I do? —Block Buster, Little Portugal

Before you take a bat to this guy’s taillight, make one more attempt to reason with him. The next time he stops in the alley—i.e. tomorrow morning—calmly explain why his parking habits are not only a nuisance but also illegal. If he keeps doing it, play hardball. Lodge a complaint through the Toronto Police Service’s online parking violation portal. They should send an officer to ticket him, and I suspect one yellow slip is all it will take for him to find a new place to flout the law.


Dear Urban Diplomat, My friend recently got into “urban climbing”—breaking into high-rise construction sites, scaling cranes and dangling from terrifying ledges, all for Instagram. She’s even bringing in some money through sponsored posts. But with every stunt, she seems to be getting bolder, and I’m scared she’s one wrong step away from disaster. Any advice? —High Anxiety, Fort York

The internet is full of horrifying videos of daredevils dropping to their death. You could send her a few to scare her straight, but don’t be surprised if she keeps at it. She’s been sucked in by a seductive cocktail—the adrenalin rush of the climb, the dopamine hit of a thousand likes, the allure of a dollar—and it may be hard to wean her off it. If she won’t listen to you, maybe she’ll listen to her family. Do her parents know she spends her Saturday nights summitting skyscrapers? Ask them to intervene. If anyone can keep your friend from becoming a cautionary tale, it’s Mom and Dad.

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Dear Urban Diplomat, After the neighbour across from me had a package stolen off his front porch, he installed a bunch of cameras outside his house. The other day, he texted me to say I had a package outside my door, and that I should grab it quickly. After that, he messaged me at 3 a.m. about a “suspicious white van” parked on our block—I’m pretty sure it was just a neighbour. I know he means well, but I can see this getting out of control. It already feels like an invasion of privacy. Thoughts? —Neighbourhood Watched, Etobicoke

Toronto doesn’t have any bylaws governing the use of residential security cameras—at least not yet. City hall recently commissioned a report on this very issue, and council will likely vote on new measures this year. They may follow the example of other cities in the GTA, which require that cameras capture only their owner’s property and the adjoining sidewalk. If you’d rather not wait, text your neighbour, thank him for his watchful eye, but explain that you’re capable of handling your own home security. If that fails, simply mute his number and pray nobody pilfers your next Amazon package.

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