Over the fence feud escalates in Airdrie neighbourhood
CTV Calgary Staff
Published Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:48PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 18, 2016 7:36PM MDT
A nasty neighbour-versus-neighbour dispute that has been going on for years has spiraled out of control in an Airdrie neighbourhood and both sides say they want the fighting to stop but they can’t seem to settle on a resolution.
Cal and Evelyn Johnston and Howard and Sonja Jackson have lived next to each other on a quiet street in Airdrie for several years.
Issues between the two couples began about six years ago after the Jackson’s built a fence that they were then forced to lower by the city.
“He built a fence that was against bylaw to cover up my signs,“ said Cal Johnston. “I took seven months with city hall to fight to have that fence reduced, which should not be there, and they finally reduced it and to get even with us they phoned police and said I was on his property.”
“We were tired of having all the dandelions from the next door neighbours and the empty lot beside us and we were going to build a privacy fence to keep the dandelions, as you see our yard is great, and so we went and bought all the material to build this fence and Howard went over there to talk about us building the fence and he begged and pleaded with us, nope don’t do it, I’ll take care of my yard, I’ll take care of my yard, so we, as nice neighbours, took everything and returned it all, paid all the fees, everything. So we waited two years, he still didn’t do anything with the fence, so we decided we’re going to build a fence now,” said Sonja.
Both couples put up warning signs directed at each other and installed surveillance cameras on their properties.
The Johnston’s say one of the Jackson’s cameras points right into their bedroom and now both sides are furious.
“We have a camera outside, less than 10 feet away from the master bedroom window, less than 12 feet from the master bathroom. Evelyn noticed it when she got out of the shower, he mounted it and it’s a zoom camera and its live, we could see it glowing at night,” said Cal.
“I'm angry at him for putting four video cameras up because I think this is, that is more than just harassment," said Howard Jackson.
“They constantly harass us. It can go from my fence being hit from the dogs, it can be from her yelling obscenities about my husband and myself, through the window,” said Sonja
Verbal fights across the fence over yard maintenance and other issues have escalated and RCMP charged both women with assault after one interaction got out of hand and the men are also facing mischief charges.
“She came and attacked me. In response, I was like this with the leaf blower trying to get her out of my face and then she punched me on my arm,” said Sonja.
“They just want to ruin your life. They invaded it so much that you can't even think. Eleven weeks of spotlights in your window and if you leave your window open, they're out there threatening you through an open window,” said Cal.
Both couples have contacted police and the City of Airdrie a number of times and a judge even granted restraining orders but the bad behavior continues.
The Jacksons and the Johnstons say talking hasn’t worked and now another neighbour from down the street has been dragged into the dispute and has also called police.
“The last RCMP officer they put in charge was a mediator and you can't mediate with these people,” said Cal.
“I would still talk to him even now, because I know that we are neighbours, we need to look over each other regardless,” said Howard.
Both sides say they want the harassment to stop but feel they have run out of options.
“I’d like to be just left alone, mind my business,’ said Sonja.
“It’s starting to get to me, it’s really, really bad. I don't even know which way to turn, it’s like they won’t leave us alone no matter what,” said Cal.
The Community Mediation Calgary Society receives up to 400 calls a year about neighbour disagreements and mediates about 30 of those.
”What really affects the neighbours the most is where their property lines meet,” said the society’s Stuart Simpson.
About 80 percent of people who eventually agree to mediation find a solution.
“In mediation, both people can win because they can come up with a solution that works for them so there’s a high satisfaction rate,” said Simpson.
Calgary police say cameras can be mounted anywhere but that they can’t face directly into someone else’s home.
Officers responded to 1,684 neighbour dispute calls between January and September of last year.
(With files from Ina Sidhu)