Fall Offcuts

invasion1Once again I’ve been outed as a member of the advance guard in the barbarian invasion of Point St. Charles. What follows are quotations from Facebook responses to my last blog entry:

He is not the only one that has bought cheap and renovated in hopes that it would change and the people would change? What does he want them to do? move out? suddenly have more money in their pockets just because the “newcomers” look down on them… Fuck them they can move right back on out


I don’t know if I am mistaken, but I get the impression that there is a sense of indignation and/or ‘outrage’ from the writer (or people moving in) mixed with a certain amount of contempt or disdain for the people who have always lived there (e.g. the entry about the ‘sad’ memorial for the girl that was murdered).

Well, yes, I do have a big problem with people dealing drugs to kids, shitting in my back yard, thieving, threatening my life, harassing women, and trying to kill each other. No, I don’t expect them to change, but I also don’t think that municipal housing authorities should countenance the existence of crack houses beside my house or the home of any other resident of Point St. Charles.

What angers me to the point of incoherence is the deeply patronizing and entirely unexamined assumption of the Facebook commenters that drug addiction and violence are a desirable or integral part of the fabric of poor urban areas. This is an ingrained attitude in the minds of some middle class people that renders them incapable of seeing the world for what it is. They let anti-social actions huddle protectively under the all-excusing umbrella of “culture” and “community.”

Guess what. No one likes to be threatened, to be robbed, to be sexually accosted. When an innocent is murdered and a memorial is erected under the bridge where her body was found, you’d better believe it’s sad. Murder and grief are not colourful, valuable, and inalienably integral elements of the lives of “people who have always lived there.”

One more thing. Why should it be assumed that, as a “newcomer,” I’m not from the same social class as Pointers. Because I know words like “inalienably” and “integral”? Words that Pointers couldn’t possibly know, right?


When I’m not sweeping down from the steppes to assault the values of my neighbours, I can often be found struggling to make my house habitable. This week, it was back to the future (or forward to the past) with the never-ending work of demolition. I’d left 1” x 2” strapping on the ceiling after taking down the plaster in the hope that it could be used to hold up plasterboard. However, a closer look made it clear that the strapping wasn’t flat or level. So it all had to come down . . . with the kilos of plaster dust above it and the countless iron nails holding it up.

Square Nails 800 px wide

Then cut into regular length sections and bundled for municipal garbage pickup.


This service must be one of the great semi-secret perks of being a taxpayer. The city will pick up 5 cubic metres of properly-packaged construction debris at a time. If you leave a great chunk of stuff like that out for the garbage guys, please do it right. Bundle wood sticks (I wrap them together with that plastic film that sticks only to itself), remove or bend down nails and sharp metal, and keep the weight down to about 20 kilos per package.


Put offcuts and plaster in thick plastic bags that are sold for construction purposes. And no paints or poisons. That kind of stuff goes to the Eco-Centre.

Speaking of stuff. I’ve kept count. Since we bought this house four years ago, I’ve left out 995 bins, barrels, bags, and bundles for the garbage guys and they have uncomplainingly taken it all. At a guess, I’d say that’s about $1500 worth of container rentals from Recybac Conteneur, my company of choice.


Speaking of companies of choice, let me add Fenestration Vitrerie Experts to the very small list. Alfredo da Silva started the business and now runs it from the dubious comfort of his tiny office. Alfredo handles mid- to high end windows and takes all the time necessary to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. He even drove us from his west-end business location back to the Point just to double check the squareness of a rough opening made by my regular contractor. The crew who installed the window were also fantastic. It was important to the crew chief that we understand everything about the window from maintenance to sealing to the importance of keeping the lintel open so it would “breathe” and not rust.


Fenestration Vitrerie Experts is more expensive than the big box retailers like Home Depot but, in this instance, you really do get what you pay for.


As long as I’m shilling, I should mention a couple of great products. The first is an LED headlamp made by Energizer. Lots of light, high quality construction, and good fit. It’s an excellent piece of kit if you can find one.


Of course, it uses batteries. I use a lot of batteries, particularly in portable electronic flashes. Here are the dead ones I have to cart to the Eco-Centre.


But I have a solution. This Powerex charger is pricey only in the short term and, with rechargeable Sanyo NiMh Eneloop batteries, saves a ton of money and waste.

 Powerex ____________________________

I have a whole mess of 18″ x 18″ concrete pavers to sell for next to nothing if you pick them all up. There’s about 300 of them. They need a wash and sell for $4.98 new.

18x18paver allpavers

About Terence Byrnes

Terence Byrnes is a writer and photographer who teaches at Concordia University in Montreal. Visit www.terencebyrnes.com to see his photography.
This entry was posted in Construction, Crime, Demolition, Point Housing, Renovation, Trades and Tradesmen and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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