Elderly couple face fine, jail time over house paint

An elderly couple in Winnipeg is worried about a letter from the city threatening a fine and the possibility of jail time over the condition of the exterior paint on their property.

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Rodney Pearson and his wife Doris received a piece of registered mail over the weekend from the City of Winnipeg ordering that they paint the back of their house, their garage and fence.

The letter was sent under a section of Winnipeg's Neighbourhood Liveability Bylaw, which requires homeowners to maintain the exterior painted surfaces of their property so no more than one quarter of the area is flaking.

Rodney Pearson, 76, acknowledges 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."

The letter indicates that, if the couple is found guilty of an offence under the bylaw, they could face a $1,000 fine, six months imprisonment, or both.

"It was kind of terrible," Pearson said. "We looked at each other and said, 'Now what's going to happen?"

City councillor Ross Eadie said the strong wording in the letter is 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 would like a two-month extension to complete the work on their home, which Eadie said the city should be able to accommodate.

"The house does need painting," Pearson said. "But I just can't do it as fast as they want it."

With a report from CTV Winnipeg



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