Spruce Avenue residents dealing with a problem property have formed a group called Neighbours Opposing Disorder and Dysfunction—a.k.a. NODD Squad.
The group discusses proactive, peaceful, lawful solutions. Anthony, a Spruce Avenue resident, is a founding member. He said, “We want to keep vigilant. We’re not paramilitary. We are not being pushed out by drugs and prostitutes. We want people to know we are a community.”
The location of the property is unidentified because residents have reported death threats in response to their actions. The house has at least two suites and residents allege it’s a hub of criminal behaviour, including drug trafficking and prostitution. People who frequent the house are loud and violent.
Anthony observed that one window on the ground level operates “like a Dairy Queen—[but with] cash in, drugs out.” He alleges that prostitutes use the second-floor suite to earn drug money, which they spend at the main floor suite. Fights break out regularly.
Dysfunctional behaviour spills over to nearby properties. Individuals cut through yards, where they also inject drugs. They discard spent needles and condoms. They collapse, unconscious, on neighbouring property. They urinate and defecate outside. Anthony said, “Who is going to clean that up?”
Until recently, individual residents called the police and the city regularly. Numerous complaints have sparked an ongoing police investigation. Recently a tactical team raided the house, leaving it temporarily vacant. Christine, a longtime resident of the neighbourhood, said no one is sure what is happening with the investigation, but they expect “things will start up again soon.”
Anthony said, “We’re losing something. I’m a prisoner in my own home.” Christine agreed: “There is a quiet good that goes on in Spruce Ave. We want to see if we can take a rag-tag group of people and become a proactive group that knows each other better. We want to build on what makes Spruce Ave unique—what makes people stay.”
NODD meetings are informative and members host people with resources to educate and advise. Councillor Bev Esslinger has provided information about the location and status of problem properties. The group is investigating funding. Christine, who chairs NODD meetings, pointed out that “there is another side to the problem house situation. There are victims there—prostitutes and drug users.” She would like NODD to collaborate with social workers to help victims. She admitted, “not all NODD members are accepting the ‘victim’ point of view”, but said that all are united in creating “a positive force for neighbourhood good.”
Anthony suggested that the problems addressed by the 118 Ave revitalization simply moved to nearby areas. He wants involvement to spread city-wide. “It’s a city issue. We don’t want the problem to move somewhere else. We want to deal with the problem itself.”
For now, members continue to liaise with police, and to focus on bylaw enforcement. They support each other in anonymously reporting bylaw violations, such as unsightly property, broken eavestroughs and fascia, and failure to clear snow. They hope to make it less worthwhile for criminals to exploit property and vulnerable people.
New members are invited from all neighbourhoods.
Thursday, Nov. 29
Spruceavecommunity@gmail.com (email for information and meeting location)
Featured Image: The newly-formed NODD Squad seeks proactive, peaceful, and lawful solutions to problem properties. | Rebecca Lippiatt
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