Winnipeggers help elderly couple facing fine or jail over peeling house paint
More than 100 people have offered to help an elderly couple in Winnipeg after they received a letter from the city threatening a fine or possible jail time over peeling paint on their house.
Rodney Pearson and his wife Doris have been ordered to paint the back of their house, garage and fence to comply with city rules that require no more than a quarter of exterior paint to be flaking.
If they don’t comply, they face a $1,000 fine, six months imprisonment, or both, according to the official letter.
Rodney Pearson, 76, acknowledged on Monday that the house where the couple has lived for 45 years is in need of painting, but he's not sure he can get it all done by the city's May 4, 2016 deadline.
"It might be winter yet in May," he told CTV Winnipeg. "It'll be too cold to paint probably."
"It was kind of terrible," Pearson added. "We looked at each other and said, 'Now what's going to happen?’"
By Tuesday the answer was clear. Pearson’s doorbell and telephone wouldn’t stop ringing, with strangers offering supplies and labour to get the job done as soon as it warms up in spring.
More than 100 people have volunteered on social media to help, according to Crystal Costello, who is compiling a list of supplies and volunteers.
Among those who offered assistance are professional painters, including Jason Zarillo of Stand Tall Painting.
"To get threatened like this, especially around Christmas time,” said Zarrillo, “I just felt just like anyone would, just like this community would … help out."
City councillor Ross Eadie said the letters sent out under the Neighbourhood Liveability Bylaw has strong wording for legal purposes.
"The orders are fairly ominous and we usually get phone calls in my office when people get (these letters)," he said.
Eadie said the majority of cases never end up in court.
"We want to take pride in our neighbourhoods, and we can do that when our houses are looking clean and well cared for," Eadie said.
Officials told CTV Winnipeg that the city issues approximately 6,000 bylaw compliance orders each year. The majority of complaints are taken through 311 – a phone number that allows residents to request information or city services.
The Pearsons have asked for a two-month extension to complete the work on their home, which Eadie said the city should be able to accommodate.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Michelle Gerwing