A stranger scolded me for not wearing a mask in public


Dear Urban Diplomat,
Recently, while walking along Bloor Street, another pedestrian scolded me for not wearing a mask in public. I totally lost my temper, telling them I wasn’t breaking the law and to mind their own freaking business (I may have used more explicit language). Afterwards, my friend suggested I went way too far. Was I really in the wrong?
—Face-Off, Yorkville

Nobody deserves to be publicly denigrated, especially if they’re not breaking any laws, so that self-appointed Covid cop was definitely guilty of overstepping. But in the future, trying cutting perma-maskers some slack. Like everyone else, they’re sick of this pandemic and want to do everything they can to make it end. Besides, some health experts recommend wearing face coverings in outdoor situations when physical distancing can’t easily be maintained, like, for example, while waiting with a bunch of people at a crosswalk.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
As summer approaches, I’ve watched the pile of waste in my building’s outdoor garbage area grow bigger and bigger, attracting a bunch of ravenous raccoons. At this point, I’m worried about getting bitten. I asked my landlord to clean up the trash zone to prevent a full-on infestation, but he still hasn’t done anything about it. What are my options?                     
—Mr. Clean, Deer Park 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Toronto Public Health has seen a 62 per cent uptick in reports of raccoon bites and scratches, so your concerns aren’t unwarranted. And it’s in your landlord’s best interests to clean up his act: under both provincial and municipal codes, property owners are responsible for keeping the premises hazard-free. Since you’ve already tried asking nicely, consider filing a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board. Your landlord’s negligence could result in a fine of up to $600.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I just found out that, over the course of the pandemic, the church down the street from me has continued hosting private indoor gatherings with upwards of 50 people (I’m an atheist, but I swear that has nothing to do with my complaint). Normally, I would notify the authorities, but it’s not like this is a frat house hosting a mid-Covid kegger. It feels kind of weird snitching on a religious institution. What should I do?
—Bad Faith,

The pandemic doesn’t discriminate between frat boys and altar boys. Church leadership clearly feels that their right to worship en masse trumps Covid protocol. I don’t. These clandestine get-togethers are dangerous to all of us, and you’re well within your legal and moral rights to inform a higher authority (i.e. 311). Plus, as an atheist, you might feel a little guilty, but at least eternal damnation is off the table.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
Lately, I’ve noticed a group of neighbourhood teens filming themselves singing and dancing in the park across the street from my house. My grandson said it’s for TikTok. The teens are always pointing their cameras at my front porch, so I’m pretty sure that I’ve appeared in some of these videos. Should I do something about it, or am I just being an old fogey?
—Senior Cynicism, North York

The ubiquity of camera phones has definitely created more scrutiny around privacy laws, but right now, there is no law against filming people or property in public view, because there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy in those settings. The teens could be doing much worse things than filming silly videos near your property. As long as nobody is violating any laws, I’d suggest shutting your blinds and letting it go. The alternative—pulling a Mr. Heckles on your front stoop and telling them to go away—will surely get filmed and posted on TikTok, where you will exist forever as the local crankypants.

Dear Urban Diplomat,
A couple of months ago, I loaned my outdoor parking spot to my downstairs neighbour, who was moving in at the time. We agreed he could use it for the week, until he got sorted, but it’s been a couple of months and he’s still using it on a regular basis. Last week, his vehicle sat in the space for the entire day and I was this close to vandalizing it. How can I (legally) reclaim my parking domain?
—Johnny In My Spot, St. Clair West

Have you tried simply asking the spot stealer to stop? If that doesn’t do the trick, then consider resolving the matter through your landlord. Involving a third party in a personal dispute can be messy, but it’s probably best to let your property owner handle the situation, assuming you’re paying them a monthly fee to park. Since your neighbour’s car is technically on private property, your landlord can have it towed at the owner’s expense. That should convince “Johnny” to leave his wheels elsewhere.