The family of a local front line ER nurse is working with the City of Kingston after a resident reported a bylaw infraction when they set up a trailer to allow the nurse to self-isolate after work.
The nurse, who will not be named to protect her privacy, became concerned for the safety of her husband and son as she continues to return home from working in the emergency department of a local hospital during the COVIS-19 pandemic. After discussing the matter together, the family decided the best solution was to erect a trailer on their front lawn for the nurse to stay in during this state of emergency. The family then surrounded it with a wooden barricade to maintain physical distancing in an effort to keep their neighbourhood safe, said Jim Deline, the husband of the ER nurse.
Deline explained that, prior to setting up the trailer for his wife’s self-isolation, the matter had been discussed with those who live on their small cul-de-sac in Kingston’s west end.
“All of the immediate neighbours have a Facebook page that we communicate through and agreed that it was a proper and respectable option to set up the trailer,” Deline said.
However, the idea was not to the liking of one resident, who reported the trailer set-up to the City of Kingston for violating by-laws – the barricade around the trailer blocks off a section of the sidewalk on the street. When a Bylaw Enforcement Officer arrived at the family’s home, it took some neighbours by surprise, prompting one neighbour to make a post on Facebook about the issue.
“We live on a great cul de sac, with amazing neighbours… one of those neighbours is an E.R. Nurse… To protect her family she came up with a solution of borrowing a trailer to live in. She asked all the neighbours on our cul de sac if we cared if it was going to be there. Nobody had a problem,” neighbour Cindy Vallier wrote in the post on the evening of Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2020.
“But now we find out, as the bylaw officer is speaking to them, that someone has called to complain??? Really??? In this crazy life we are all trying to just stay safe,” the post continues. “The bylaw officer is trying to help figure out a solution… but really, someone had the nerve to complain because they had to walk around it? Or look at it??? I hope that person doesn’t get sick and need her help at the hospital!”
Since the post was created, it’s garnered a lot of attention locally on social media, with over 285 comments and 287 shares at time of press. Many of those commenting and sharing the post voiced outrage that the City had been contacted in the first place.
But Deline emphasized that, despite the situation being reported, the City has been helpful in working with his family during this difficult time.
“The City sent a [bylaw] enforcement officer, and we had a polite discussion about it. And I just got off the phone with the City again,” Deline said in a phone interview on Thursday, Apr. 3, 2020. “They’re on board with us, and they’re providing us with an immediate two-week permit to block the sidewalk.”
The city is also going to erect their barricades and signage to provide a barricaded walking path around the trailer for pedestrians, Deline said.
“I think it went smoothly and I didn’t expect anything less,” he said of working with the City. “Sometimes people get too excited by simple things, right? It’s just a matter of discussing it, and, if it becomes a debateable issue, then you have to be able to put forward the debate in a respectable manner and come up with a respectable decision.”
The City of Kingston indicated they are continuing to work with the family regarding the issue.
“The City is aware of the situation and has been in contact with the homeowner to discuss short-term options. We will continue to work with the homeowner to find the best long-term solution for everyone,” the City said in a statement to Kingstonist. “We ask that residents contact the City directly for any parking-related matters at 613-546-0000.”
Deline said that, while some people got “pretty excited and a little verbal” on the Facebook post regarding the situation, he hopes people will take away an understanding of the need to give the City an opportunity to make a decision on matters such as this one. He said he and his family are handling the situation well, and are all in good spirits, and that he hopes the attention their situation is getting will serve as a reminder to everyone about the importance of social and physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It may seem excessive, but in the reality of it, this is an extremely contagious virus that’s going around. We need to treat it as such, because look at the Americans, and other countries like Spain and Italy. A little bit of distance can save us a lot of headache,” he said.
“Tonight is going to be the first night where we’re going to have a degree of separation, and we’ll just take it day by day.”