Maddox and Gavin. (Submitted photo)

Why a small B.C. neighbourhood dispute made headlines

Real communication can solve problems

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. Kids make some noise, neighbour asks that said noise be curtailed.

What’s to see here, right? Could be happening in Anytown, B.C., at any time during any given year.

But what makes this incident so noteworthy has been the outpouring of response. Hundreds of online comments, and the story has been the most-read on a number of our sister site publication as well.

Why? Probably because most of us can relate, on some level, to being involved with, or witnessing, some type of neighbour ‘dispute’.

In this case, a Parksville area couple, whose children enjoy playing outside, received anonymous letters, calling the noise ‘unbearable’.

Part of the first letter read: “You have no doubt realized that you moved into a neighbourhood of retired people. Do you hear any noise from anyone else? I didn’t think so.” Both letters (postmarked) were titled, “Re: Your Noisy Children,” and outline how the noise the children make while playing in the backyard is making it impossible for the authors to enjoy their own outdoor space.

Complicating matters, of course, is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With children in many cases homebound, without school or sports or other outside activities, they’re going to be playing in their yard a lot more. Perfectly natural. And respectfully asking your neighbours for a little extra quiet seems perfectly natural, too.

But in breaking down the mass of feedback, perhaps the biggest issue identified was the anonymous sending of the letters. Of course, there could be legitimate reasons for that, but most agreed the best method for resolution would have been simple: knock on the door or just find another way to speak to the parents personally.

“I’ve had bad neighbours before; these people don’t know what bad neighbours and noisy neighbours are if they’re complaining about kids playing,” said Jaret Jones, dad for the two youngsters in question. “We’re not drinking until 3 a.m. and smashing stuff.”

And he’s got a point. He said he’s not sure who sent the letter, and went and talked to his nearby neighbours, who said they also had experience with similar complaints.

For most, the sound of children playing is a wonderful backdrop in any neighbourhood. For others, clearly, it can be an issue.

But the solution surely isn’t anonymous letters. It’s actual communication. Explain, in person or on the phone, your situation and see if you can’t find an equitable solution. In most cases, there’s probably some middle ground. If not, then you can bring in other authorities, though that’s not likely to foster any goodwill.

In the end, it’s a good lesson for all of us. Listen, communicate and be respectful of one another.

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