We'd placed a US $1,000 deposit on a motorhome that we hadn't seen yet, and weren't sure even existed, to a disembodied voice on the phone. Neither were we sure we'd want it when we finally saw it, and we definitely didn't have a really good idea of how we were going to get it back into Canada once we bought it. Now we find that we can't get a mortgage to pay for it because the City is unwilling to provide us with a Compliance Certificate on the Real Property Report. And, the clock was ticking down to October 1st when we'd either have to buy the motorhome or make a big payment on it for the owner at our loss.
Do you see any beads of sweat yet?
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SCHULTZ
There is an important point to be learned from all this. When dealing with most government bureaucracies on most matters, only two things are required to get what you want.
The bigger the project, the higher up the hierarchy you must crawl, the lower you must grovel and the more money you must pay. And, this is true whether you are fighting a parking ticket, applying for a marriage license or asking for a minor exception to a building code.
Mind you, there is no guarantee that you'll get what you want, either. However, the more trouble and expense you go through as you humiliate yourself, the better are your chances. Thus, 90% of all our interactions with government are reduced to demeaning abasement and the crude transfer of lucre.
At least in civilized societies they no longer require indentured servitude, public whippings or castration!
When Global Surveys Corporation's representative went down to the City Hall to get the compliance certificate for us, it was declined. It seems that in 1991 we had torn off an old, rickety back porch and put up a long, narrow one in its place (actually a long narrow deck). Stan had called the City twice to inquire about the distance that was required between the deck and the property line. On both occasions the answer was an emphatic "one metre" (forty inches). So, we built the deck to allow 41 inches clearance to allow a small margin for error.
However, in 1999 the City had changed the bylaw to read 1.5 metres, about sixty inches. Thus, we were no longer within code. Global told us that in order to get the compliance certificate we would have to take several photos of the deck down to the City Hall, prostrate ourselves before some bureaucrat and pleed for mercy. It would also cost us another $250 to convince them to allow an exception to the code.
Thus, Stan got out the trusty Canon Sure Shot (Kodak Brownies having long since gone extinct), a fresh roll of film and a step ladder, and blew an entire roll of film on the back deck.
Then, that very next Monday, Stan made a pilgrimage to the City Hall to face the dragons. He went as early as possible to avoid as much traffic as possible and was actually able to find a vacant parking metre just behind the City Hall. After a few minutes of blundering around the place, he found the Development and Building Approvals Department, took a number and waited.
One hour and fifteen minutes later (almost instantly by all accounts!) his number was called and he approached the bureaucrat at the window ("wicket," in the UK and Canada). Sweet mother of pearl! This kid was younger than his grandson! After the initial shock, Stan explained his problem and presented him with some eighteen or twenty photographs taken from almost every conceivable angle, orientation and distance. The fellow grabbed the photos and the Real Property Reports and disappeared into the bowels of the building for several minutes.
Shortly, he reappeared and explained that yes, the distance was legal in 1991, had been changed in 1999, and since we were requesting an exception within the five year grace period everything was just hunky-dory and we could get the compliance certificate for a mere CDN $73 instead of $250. (And you didn't believe what was written in the sidebar, right?)
Thus, after two hours of wasted time (for all intents and purposes) and a $73 donation to the city coffers, Stan walked out of the City Hall with the Real property Report and its very own Compliance Certificate proudly held high!
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Copyright © 2003, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 2003-December-01.
The last revision occurred on 2005-December-19.