When Kevin Lowe’s tenant left the house last Wednesday to take his daughter to school, he found the end of their driveway blocked.
Someone had strung a rope across from one end to the other, and planted with it two signs.
Lowe was not impressed with what they said.
“This neighborhood is not your private dump,” said one. “Clean up your goddamn mess, go online or to the town office to get a garbage collection calendar and stop making our environment look like an Indian reserve. We are contacting town bylaw over your constant littering here and they will be in touch … DISGUSTING”.
The second sign read: “WE ARE SOFA KING WEETODID.”
The home is located on Johnson Place, a cul-de-sac off Neva Road. The tenant moved the rope and the signs and later contacted Lowe, who lives in a different unit of the same house, to inform him.
“I was absolutely furious,” said Lowe. “I wanted to go door-to-door and tell whoever did this ‘You don’t leave racist signs in our yard. If you have a problem with me or anybody here, you come introduce yourself and knock on the door and tell us this is an issue for you.’”
According to Lowe, recycling materials for the two units had been put out at the end of the drive Monday but missed the collection truck.
They had not yet been taken back inside.
“It’s basically two units worth of recycling, with a little bit extra than it should have been. But they’re making it sound like we scattered s— all over the road. It was very organized as well,” he said.
It was the sign’s racist message that bothered Lowe most. He is not a member of a First Nation himself, but one of his tenants is. He said regardless, the sign is racist and uncalled for.
Lowe and his girlfriend moved into the property in June. He said for a number of reasons, including erratic work schedules in the summer, they hadn’t had time to meet their neighbours.
He said to put a rope and sign at the end of his driveway was “over the top” and its wording made it feel like the whole neighbourhood is “mutinying against us.”
Joseph Fernandez, chief administrative officer for the Town of Lake Cowichan, confirmed that his office did receive a complaint and a photo of the recycling materials left at the end of the driveway. He said the town relies on complaints when it comes to situations like unsightly properties, however, their policy is to investigate upon receiving more than one written complaint about the same situation.
“Sometimes you get the odd little mess, someone who hasn’t cut his grass, that in itself doesn’t really warrant our getting involved,” he explained. “We need two complaints and then we investigate it and if our investigation proves that the complaints are valid then we take action.”
That action could be in the form of a fine, but according to Fernandez the town would rather see the site cleaned up rather than fining the individual responsible. If the town’s notice is not heeded, it will send a contractor to do the remedial work and the charges will then be added to the offending property’s taxes.
“He should have taken [the materials] back into his property because recycling is Monday. So he’s now waiting for the next recycling day. That’s not really fair to the neighbours,” said Fernandez.
But, he added, people should report such issues to the town.
“People should be more reasonable than putting up signs like that,” he said, even if it didn’t infringe on any bylaws. “I would say they would have to deal with the police on that… We don’t have bylaws about that.”
When Lowe saw the signs, he immediately went to the closest neighbour and knocked on the door. Lowe said the woman who greeted him was very kind and calmed him down, convinced him not to continue going door-to-door, and said he should try to let it go.
He doesn’t plan to report the incident to the police, but has a message for whoever left the signs outside his driveway.
“Grow up,” he said. “That’s not how you deal with your problems as an adult.”