Why I haven’t been painting much; stories in Ottawa living next to 838 Bronson Ave


I ran into a parent of a recent tenant. She represented a quieter group that lived next door. The parent mentioned their kid started needing a lot more asthma medicine when living at 838 Bronson Ave. We’ve been a little worried lately as on certain wet days there’s a smell coming through our living room wall. Apparently, once the kid moved away from next door their asthma returned to controllable levels. The parent figures the mould is so bad in the house that their kid couldn’t breathe properly. I’m happy I can at least call bylaw because of the noise; I’m lucky whatever smell seems to be coming from next door only reaches us occasionally. Nobody goes into the living room on the days the fumes are coming through.

I remember a time that even the current students couldn’t put up with the smell. They came over here and asked us if we could smell anything. They eventually ended up calling the fire department. That wasn’t the first time we’d seen firetrucks lined up outside 838 Bronson.

An electrician the owner had at 838 Bronson Ave once told us a story about how he had found the exhaust vents from the furnace in a pile on the floor which is about as dangerous as living with a tiger. He told us he’d never enter that house again. I’d rather have whatever smell coming through the walls sometimes than a flood of carbon monoxide in my room. At least I’m able to paint as the smell doesn’t reach my studio.


Lately, it’s been quiet enough to get a few things done. Recently I looked out the window at 838 Bronson and noticed they’d pilled their snow on top of their new apple tree. It is compressed to an angle that threatens its survival. Like everyone else associated with 838 Bronson Ave, the tree is pathetic.

Somedays I feel bad for the tenants. They are afraid to call the Landlord & Tenant Board because the landlord is a bully. The house seems barely inhabitable, but nobody calls him on the state of the property. He is supposed to do their snow. It’s the law, but he doesn’t care about the law. We know he doesn’t do the grass very often either.

So the chastened students are out there doing the snow, adding more weight to the apple tree. It may survive better than mine though. I caught one of the students peeing on the tree in the summer. I freaked then ran next door and started chewing them out. They already think I’m demented, but my tree was sacred. Well, it was, it died the next week.

We put video cameras up after that. We caught one of the tenants peeing in our garden, he swore and cursed at us waving his fist and other parts our way after I yelled at him. He was removed from his team at Carleton University the next week. We also had the opportunity to have him charged by the police. In the end, we requested that the police not charge him, we decided that even though he was part of the gang making our life hell we didn’t want to ruin his life. We now have cameras on all sides of our house, We’ve already shared videos with the university, a couple with the police and with bylaw. A officer said we can use the video if the students decide to challenge the tickets in court. It may be thanks to that camera that I can finally paint again.


Today was a win. By 9:30 four houses had called bylaw on the students at 838 Bronson Ave. They were ticketed $1000 before I even got out of bed. I don’t think they had a happy panda Game. Once again that red flag in the city’s computer system was the hero. I went to bed late after painting, so I was happy the moring noise didn’t last long.


We made some headway recently. 838 Bronson Ave is now forever flagged. That means no more warnings for any noise violations. The base ticket is now $1,200 dollars in Ottawa. I believe the students have now been fined close to $4,000. We were told that if they try to take the tickets to court the judge will not even listen to their pleas because of the track record of violations. The bylaw officer mentioned that if there is one more ticket issued to students at 838 Bronson Ave that they will finally be able to go after the owner as there’s a proven track record of negligence on his part. At least the students have been quieter after all the fines they’ve received. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get more painting done.


I have to call bylaw anytime I want our grass to look nice. I cut our side every week, but they’re growing hay at 838 Bronson Ave. Next year I’m going to call bylaw on him every two weeks. That is the only way the owner will come by to take care of the property. Only the hand of authority makes him act. He’s so cheap that he doesn’t want to pay anyone, especially the city, to do his lawn. He makes $50,000 a year on the property, but can’t pay a neighbourhood kid to do his grass. I saw mice running in and out of that mess. They have nowhere to hide on our side. I can’t sit on our lawn to draw because something might come out of the grass next door and bite me in the toe.


There are four houses around 838 Bronson Ave that all call bylaw to report noise violations at 838 Bronson Ave. Since there have been almost twenty years of devastation at the property nobody around here even bothers giving new students a chance. The owner tells them they can park on the lawn, then the students get ticketed. The owner doesn’t tell them not to go on the roof, then the police drop by. Anyone hears noise after 10:30 everyone calls so bylaw will show up at 11:00. At this point when we call 311 sometimes a dispatcher tells us they’ve already received a couple of calls about the house. Normally they are here fast and have started parking where the students can’t see them. The newest batch has already received two big tickets, yet they still party. I don’t know how students can afford thousands of dollars in fines. I’ve been able to get some new paintings started when the noise quiets down now and then.


I found a new rat nest today. I know our veterinarian neighbours on the other side didn’t contribute the MacDonalds containers. There’s a corner in our garden where the creatures have been pulling their halls from next door. Instead of tomatoes part of the garden is growing take-out containers and frozen vegetable bags. At least the neighbours are getting their greens. It’s very annoying though that the rats have chosen this corner of our property to bring their snacks. I enjoy taking a break from my paintings in the garden, but lately even that’s getting difficult.


I always wonder why people rent the house at 838 Bronson Ave. Anyone can see even by the state of the window screens, before even entering the door, that the place is a dump. I walked by the place recently and the music was pouring out the open windows. The screens were blowing in the wind like the house was waving all flags at half-mast. Animals must have gotten in some of those windows because they’re often open all night. I was calling bylaw before even entering our door. Knowing I wouldn’t be getting any painting done tonight I wondered if 838 Bronson Ave or my lack of peace to paint is sadder.


As I am waiting for bylaw officers to drop by, unable to paint because of the noise, I remembered one day how the trash in the laneway combusted. Leaves and debris brought the fire department to 838 Bronson Ave. I always thought that should have been more of a wake-up call to the city to look into how dangerous the living situation is next door.

The neighbour rents to 7 students and two of them live downstairs in unpermitted rooms. There is no exit for those that live downstairs if a fire breaks out. In the winter the windows are fully covered in snow. If a fire started in the house, I fear for the students there. I have a hard time worrying about them as their noise is shaking the walls, but I still don’t want anyone to perish under the conditions at 838 Bronson.

Oh, bylaw has arrived. The noise just stopped I can paint again.


Living in Ottawa is great, unfortunately, our little slice of heaven is more like hell. We live at 840 Bronson Ave, while the house next door is 838 Bronson Avenue in Ottawa. Google our house, it’s K1S 4G7, it is a great neighbourhood besides the deafening noise from the trucks and honking which we hear at all hours, but we always figured, at least we’re in a good neighbourhood. Alas, it’s not the busy street that’s the biggest problem, it’s bad a neighbor situation. We share a wall with people but we can’t do anything even though the other half of our building isn’t maintained.

One of the Critters

A few years ago we had a family of raccoons living in our roof. The owner of the attached house has 30-plus-year-old shingles with raw wood peeking through. It is in such bad shape that raccoons came along and pulled off the shingles and lived in our attic for months, but we couldn’t even fix his side. Eventually, the owner came along and patched up the hole, but the animals had free reign in that roof for weeks, and he didn’t do anything to clean up the mess. We’re still worried about the damage done to both properties.

Racoon home on 838 Bronson Ave

While he fixed the hole, he didn’t replace the roof. The shingles were all the way off the other side for weeks. Who knows what the water and raccoon feces did to our third floor. The paint has come off on our side and keeps peeling because of the leak, I can’t even imagine what has happened to the other side where the students are living. Our side has mould and the paint just won’t stay on our walls. It’s an old house so I’m worried that the paint coming off is full of lead, and now possibly vermin scat. We’ve basically closed-off rooms in our house because of the neighbour’s neglect.

Our Walls and ceilings because of the roof leak at 838 Bronson

It’s unfortunate that we have to suffer because someone you’re not connected to doesn’t take care of his property. A leaky roof and evicted raccoons are one thing, but unfortunately, we still have a plague of rats around our houses. I’ve been catching rats for years now, I watch them sneak onto our property from across the fence where I try to catch them. I caught close to fifty rats last year, but there’s nothing I can do to control their population because they have a beachhead on the neighbour’s side.

It’s not only the roof leaking onto our side, we can hear everything from next door. Every bit of noise travels through the wall. We even soundproofed our side, but it makes no difference. We’re loud on our side of the wall, so I’m sure they hear us too, but imagine living next to seven students. Bronson is deafening, especially in the summer with the windows open (we can’t have air conditioning in our house as it’s all hot ancient hot water heating), and sometimes I can’t sleep because of the cars, but the partying and banging coming through the walls make it impossible to care for my mental health.

We recently fixed up our back porch, but the wall on the neighbour’s side is rotting. I’m worried that the rot will spread under our newish siding and do more damage to our side. The students don’t seem to be able to see out their windows to notice the rot because of the condensation in their windows. Nor do they notice it outside, maybe because the backyard is so small it’s hard to turn around. More likely the owner doesn’t care about the house. Usually, the owner is only there to fix anything once a catastrophe occurs. I remember hearing his living room ceiling come crashing while we were watching tv on our side, I always wondered if he fixed that. I genuinely fear that seventeen years of subwoofers and students’ parties have damaged our plaster too.

Unfortunately, it isn’t only the backyard that’s awful, the garage seems to be the place bigger animals live. Last year I watched skunks coming and going into his garage from our window. The smell that filled our house all summer was awful. I’ve never seen so many animals taking up residence on a property. We’re doing everything we can on our side to keep them out but it’s been tough keeping up with everything wandering onto our property from their side.

Imagine living next to a house with seven university students, this has been our life for years. There isn’t space for seven students in that house, but the owner did a bunch of work without a permit, so he made room. We’ve finally reached out to the city, so at least they’re in the process of looking into what rules were broken at the property, and which permits he may need to procure. We expect they will require the owner to make changes to the work he did, but at this point, we are resigned to the fact that he’ll find a way to keep as many students as he can by sending rent checks his way. We’ve opened case after case with the city to fight for a little peace and quiet.

The lawn

We did fight back, and we’re going to continue fighting despite how demoralizing this is. We got sick of having cars parked on our lawn. When we reached out to the city, they ensured us that no cars were allowed to park out front of the house. What this means is they have to use the garage to park their car, but it’s such an old garage that no new car can fit. I was told to call the city anytime I noticed a car parked out front and the city would send bylaw over to ticket. I’m sick and tired of this though. I’m tired of having to always watch what’s going on to be sure our house doesn’t fall down because of the neighbours. We have thousands of dollars of damage thanks to the neighbour, I can only imagine what their side is like, still nothing changes. At this point, it’s like the house has great skin, but it must be rotting inside if our walls are any indication.

We live in a nice house, and our side has been well maintained but the other side has been trashed by about 150 students that have called the house home. I’ve heard them talk about the mould in the house, and broken ceilings, they’ve parked on the lawn for years and nobody has cared. He took a beautiful house and let it fall apart while taking all the money he could from the property. There’s never any peace on this busy street especially living next to 838 Bronson Ave, and we worry about how safe our house is after the neglect coming from next door. We worry our roof that may now be rotting from the inside. We worry about the rats finally figuring out how to get inside our house from next door. We worry about the noise and violence, being next to so many students (they’re all around not just next to us), and what that’s doing to our mental health.