Dear Urban Diplomat: An overzealous snow blower is terrorizing our street

Dear Urban Diplomat: An overzealous snow blower is terrorizing our street

I know my neighbour means well, but he mangles garden plots and leaves snowbanks wherever he pleases. How can I kindly convince him to stop?

He's out at the first sign of snow, tearing up gardens and leaving piles wherever he pleases. I know he means well, but how can I kindly convince him to stop?

Dear Urban Diplomat,
One of my neighbours got a snow blower last winter. At the slightest flurry, he’s out and about, clearing everyone’s sidewalk like an overzealous Good Samaritan. The thing is, he’s really bad at it, often veering off course, carving up gardens and piling snow onto people’s driveways. He’s a nice guy, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I can’t handle an encore of last winter’s snow-removal disaster. Help?
—Overblown, Markland Wood

It seems like your directionally challenged friend needs visual aids to keep him on the right path. Can you strategically install ornamental fencing? Hit the hardware store for some poles with reflective tape? The alternative is to get out there with your shovel before he has the chance to unleash his blizzard-busting fury. Consider it a good way to keep off the winter weight.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
Are garages for cars or for crap? I ask because the recent surge in auto thefts has me wanting to keep our SUV locked away. But our garage is crammed with keepsakes from when the kids were little, and my wife refuses to jettison them. How can I end this low-key hoarding?
—Trash Talk, Clanton Park

While I agree that the family Toyota should take precedence over cobwebbed toys and trinkets, it’s best to approach the topic gently lest you come off like a heartless thug hellbent on discarding precious memories. Reframing the situation may help. Instead of emphasizing what has to go, start by deciding together what’s worth keeping, then build or buy creative storage solutions for the items you both treasure. In the meantime, brush up on alternative auto-theft prevention tips and stay vigilant.

More Urban Diplomat

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I recently hosted a fancy house party for my birthday—lots of great food and a cocktail dress code. I told my guests it was an adults-only affair, which I don’t think was unreasonable; not every ­gathering has to be kid-centric, does it? One friend turned up with her twin five-year-olds anyway, assuming that she could stash them in the den with an iPhone full of video games. I refused, and she turned heel and went home. Since then, our relationship has been frosty. Was I right to fend off the invasion?
—Juvenile Offended, Dufferin Grove

Both of you are partly right and partly wrong. Your friend was rude to ignore your request, but she was trying to celebrate you nevertheless. Maybe she couldn’t find a sitter. That said, refusing her kids entry was a tad harsh. Would two school-age children really have wrecked your evening? Now it’s up to you to extend the olive branch. If parenting keeps her from attending future parties, brainstorm some child-friendly activities that you can do with her instead. Give the kids a chance. They may end up teaching you life lessons about playing nice.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My dog, Jarvis, needs plenty of exercise, but there’s no off-leash space in my neighbourhood. So I take him to a vacant patch of land nearby, where he can run free. I’ve been doing it for a while without trouble, but lately some old grouch has started grumbling at me to leash up. He must be a retired parking cop or something because he’s a real stickler for the rules. Technically, yes, he’s right. But the field is tucked away, and the only people—apart from this one guy—who go there are fellow dog owners. Is it wrong for us to ignore him?
—For Dog’s Sake, Scarborough Village

It sucks that this city doesn’t have enough dedicated parks for pooches—and that the ones it does have often look like a dog’s breakfast—but you need to follow the rules here. Lots of people are genuinely scared of dogs. This guy, however crusty, may be one of them. Toronto recently issued a warning that canine attacks are up 39 per cent, so unleashed pups are increasingly in the crosshairs. I have intel that the off-leash area at McCowan Park, just north of you, is terrific. Getting there may be a bit of a trek for you and Jarvis, but like you said: he needs plenty of exercise.