Fix a problem, lose a friend
It’s easier than you think to get in trouble when reporting on things that are the bread and butter of the Fixer.
On May 22 I wrote about a sinkhole and heaving pavement in the intersection of Memorial Park
Ave. and Linsmore Cr., which the city fixed within two days of my column.
While checking it out, I noticed a couple in the yard of a home on the corner, so I identified myself and asked if they’d made a complaint on SeeClickFix about it.
Turns out they didn’t, but the woman said she loves the Fixer column and was glad we’d shown up. She and her husband provided me with the background of the situation, which began in March, and even walked into the intersection with me to look at it.
They also showed me some concrete squares next to their house, which they said had recently begun to sink. It had them wondering if it was related to the water main link that caused the sinkhole, about 50 metres away.
I didn’t think so; if the leak was causing a problem that far from the intersection, there’d be so much water that it would flood the street and ooze out of their lawn.
Our meeting was cordial and friendly.
But I mentioned their concern about the concrete squares at the bottom of the column. I did not identify them or quote them directly, only paraphrasing them, and incorrectly (sorry about that) identified the location of their home, placing it on the wrong corner.
So I was surprised to find a note from them, posted to the original complaint on SeeClickFix, the same day the column ran, blasting me for impacting the value of their property, and for “quoting” them.
What if they wanted to sell, they asked? Our reporting of the sunken squares might make it harder, and we had no right to quote them without asking for their permission.
Then Big Pete, who originally reported the problem, came to my rescue, posting a comment that said they should be thanking me, since the column prodded the city into fixing it right away.
Oddly, the homeowner’s comments had been removed from SeeClikckFix when I looked for them Wednesday, but were there the day before.
I don’t think I wrote anything that devalued their home; anyone looking for something that would lessen its value is unlikely to rely on my column, even if they found it, and would find other reasons not to buy it.
But in hindsight, I wish I had never mentioned them.