Neighbours who fight make news every time

I was struck by the comment of a reader who questioned why we'd cover a feud between two neighbours over a sprinkler. There must be more important things to write about, the reader suggested.

"You've got to be kidding," was my reaction.

When something goes wrong in a neighbourhood - especially when it ends up in court - that's definitely news.

Neighbourhoods are home. Since the Capulets and the Montagues, the Hatfields and McCoys, feuding neighbours have been fodder for news coverage because everybody's a neighbour and everybody likes to read about somebody else's neighbours.

The sprinkler battle showed up on the court docket because Brocklehurst neighbours Lynn Burgess and Mary Onufreychuk got into a fight over a wet driveway, leading to an assault charge.

When people live close to each other, many things can go wrong.

In another Brocklehurst case, a few years ago, Bob Uhrig incurred the wrath of a neighbour who claimed Uhrig's honey bees were stinging people.

An aversion to pigeon poop brought complaints last year about 87-year-old James McMaster's insistence on feeding the winged pests in the backyard of his Gleneagles home.

Nothing causes more disharmony between neighbours than noisy dogs. A few years ago I wrote about a former neighbour who let his dogs out at night to bark non-stop till dawn. And another's beloved donkey that awakened us at 4 every morning, joyfully greeting each new day with ear-splitting braying. There was a rooster down the street, too.

Last summer, after neighbours complained about noise and traffic, Aaron and Sarah Pierce got a visit from City bylaws officers who found that their secondary suite was illegal.

Speaking of which, sometimes neighbours don't even have to complain - bylaws officers can start a dispute where there was none, as in the notorious case of Abbey of Aberdeen the friendly Golden Retriever. She was tossed in the slammer by bylaws officers for wandering onto the sidewalk in front of her home - even though no neighbours had complained.

Cat complaints, I'm pretty sure, far outnumber dog complaints.

While good fences might make for good neighbours, try putting up an ugly fence, or one that encroaches even one inch onto your neighbour's property and see what happens.

There have been cases elsewhere in which arguments between neighbours have ended in gunfights.

Somebody should put together a list of the 10 most common reasons neighbours don't get along - maybe it would embarrass us all enough to think twice.

The relationship between urban crowding and violence is a favourite for scientists, but the results are indefinite. Not so in the animal world.

Most species quarrel if they're put in over-crowded conditions. Rats, of course, soon start fighting if scientists put too many in one cage.

Battery-farmed chickens peck at each other and even commit cannibalism. They don't lay as many eggs as those with more room, either. That's why small chicken farmers brag about their "free-range" chickens.

Human beings develop "cabin fever" if they're cooped up too long in winter.

On the other hand, neighbours often band together to fight perceptions of threats to their neighbourhoods. The Cowan Street battle against a city plan to build social housing on land currently used for a park is one example.

The Loon Lake residents' dispute with the TNRD over removal of waste disposal privileges is another. A slaughterhouse proposed for Westwold was stopped because those close to it didn't want it there.

Neighbours unite to get better street lighting, a crosswalk, or slow down traffic, or get rid of a crack shack. They sometimes form associations to do it.

Good news or bad, fighting each other or fighting for a cause, neighbors are news.

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