Some Calgary neighbours’ nasty, years-long dispute over a fence has gone so far, police are involved and the homeowners face mischief and assault charges.
Sonja and Howard Jackson, and Cal and Evelyn Johnston, next-door neighbours in a residential area of the Alberta city of Airdrie, near Calgary, have been feuding ever since the fence went up six years ago.
“He built a fence that was against bylaw to cover up my signs,” Cal Johnston told CTV Calgary.
Sonja Jackson acknowledges that she and her husband had planned to build a “privacy fence” because they take pride in their yard and wanted to separate it from what they suggest is their neighbours’ dandelion-infested yard.
However, she claims she and her husband backed off on building the fence when Cal Johnston promised to take better care of his garden.
As “nice neighbours,” Sonja Jackson said, they agreed to return all the materials for the fence. But, after waiting two years for a change, Sonja Jackson said they decided to build it after all.
The city of Airdrie twice forced the Jacksons to lower the fence.
Both neighbours put up warning signs on their respective properties and directed them at each other.
They both subsequently installed security cameras outside their respective houses too, in an apparent attempt to intimidate.
The fight escalated when the Johnstons accused the Jacksons of pointing one of their security cameras right into their master bedroom window.
“I’m angry at (Cal Johnston) for putting four video cameras up, because I think this is more than just harassment,” Howard Jackson told CTV Calgary.
Airdrie authorities say there are no regulations on home surveillance. Calgary police say residents are permitted to install cameras wherever homeowners want to, but it can’t shoot directly into someone’s window or front door.
Now, both couples are furious. They have contacted police and the city of Airdrie multiple times. A judge has granted restraining orders in the fight, but bad behaviour between the couples continues. Mischief charges are pending against Cal Johnston and Howard Jackson.
And, the dispute has gotten so volatile that an interaction between the men’s wives became physical.
Video of the incident shows Sonja Jackson clearing her yard using a leaf-blower. Evelyn Johnston appears, and the pair appear to start yelling at each other before their fight turns physical. RCMP ended up charging both women with assault.
In an interview with CTV Calgary, Sonja Jackson claimed that Evelyn “came and attacked” her, so she responded by lifting the leaf-blower at her, “trying to get her out of my face and then she punched me on my arm.”
The homeowners say that attempts to negotiate a solution to their dispute hasn’t worked.
“The last RCMP officer they put in charge was a mediator, and you can’t mediate with these people,” Johnston said.
Meanwhile, both couples said they want the issue to be put to rest.
“I’d like to be just left alone, mind my business,” said Sonja Jackson.
The Community Mediation Calgary Society’ Stuart Simpson says neighbour disputes often erupt over the location of property lines. He said approximately 80 per cent of people who eventually seek mediation find a solution.
“I think the reason for that is that they’ve created the solution (themselves),” Simpson said.
With files from CTV Calgary