Start Here. All Will Be Explained.

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Okay – so I can’t figure out how to make an archive or search feature. Bear with me. If you click on one of the pages there are tags that will take you to similar topics. I’m inserting some links to create a basic synopsis of what is going on with this blog, house and situation:

I bought this house in the fall of 2016, and moved here in November 2016.

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/10/31/trying-to-leave-toronto/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/11/08/looking-for-a-home/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/11/08/why-did-you-buy-such-an-old-house/

The heritage tag is a grab bag of related topics. My house is currently under review for Heritage Designation :

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/heritage/

This neighbourhood had some problems, that was obvious. It still seemed less bad than where I had previously been.

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/11/13/east-of-adelaide/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/11/18/john-troubles/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/10/28/nightmare-apartment-nightmare-neighbours/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2018/10/28/preface/

I thought the house had some really great things going on with it. I loved all the original details. I liked that while it was in plain sight, that it was also private, and far enough away from neighbours, or so I thought.  I knew I didn’t want to live near student rentals, frightening rooming houses, an Air B n B, or anywhere that there was a lot of human intrusion. Commercial neighbours seemed ideal.

The house had a serious case of deferred maintenance, and some unsettling color choices. I was prepared for all the undoing and re-doing. It only took three years to get this point.

I did as much as I knew how to do, which was sourcing vintage or antique salvaged materials, stripping paint, plaster repairs, prepwork, basic demolition and more painting. I had a series of exasperating experiences trying to find professionals who would even work on my house in this area. The contempt and derision from professionals who I would be potentially paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to work on my house was pretty astonishing. I did not hire anyone who with a bad attitude towards me or my house. Your loss, dudes !

If you are THAT interested the DIY tag will take you through the greatest hits:

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/diy/page/1/

The Before and During tag will take you down a similar route:

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/before-and-during/page/1/

In context of the whole, it shouldn’t matter whether I spruced up the entire house, or only changed a lightbulb.

What I didn’t expect to butt up against were the grave deficiencies in bylaws and building code within the City of London. I didn’t expect that Site Plans from 70 years ago, that do not even have a written record, would be considered acceptable without periodic review for modern industry. When I bought this house, my neighbour was a used car lot that sold a little gas. It was open 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. The lot was sold, then renovated by a gas station flipper then sold again to a buyer who I suppose wanted a turn key business. I am now living next to a 24 hour gas and convenience store.

This was possible as the City of London does not require a site plan review if a building is renovated, and there is no change of use. The City also does not require any sort of community input from businesses that want to operate 24 hours a day, even if they are right next door to and/or close to other residences. This is a real problem in areas with a history of street prostitution, drug dealing, drug houses and petty crime. Things like 24 hour convenience stores create a plausible deniability for the creepy johns and drug buyers that cruise my neighbourhood, especially after dark.

The City’s only concern is the correct zoning for the land usage. Yet this planning creates a two tiered standard of development. My new neighbour would not have been permitted to create what they made in a new development from the ground up – there would be guidelines for the square footage, traffic control, buffer zones, lighting, garbage containment and so on.

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/08/city-of-london-site-planning/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/07/site-planning-and-gas-station-design/

You can wade through the whole stinking mess with the Hey City of London ! tag:

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/hey-city-of-london/

What it comes down to is that the City of London offers NO protection for a residence that is next to a commercial property. A residence thusly located does not have the same rights as other residences, with regards to quiet enjoyment, privacy, safety or even darkness. A residence next to a commercial lot has no rights to freedom FROM their commercial neighbour’s activities. The City of London does not even have ANY bylaws about light pollution or infiltration. Ask me how I know:

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/10/02/light-blight/

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I complained when the headlights from gas station customers shone in my dining room and kitchen windows. My elevation was about 48″ lower. The gas station manager said they would put up a fence. No one ever shared quotes with me or asked for a carpenter or post hole recommendation. Decisions were made unilaterally – though the gas station manager first expected that I would contribute $ 2500.00 towards this fence – quotes unseen. This is the fence my commercial neighbour erected – then demanded I contribute $ 1000.00 towards. I refused ! This the fence that I see when I look out my dining room, kitchen, back porch and west bedroom windows:

 

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The 4 x 4 posts are not even securely or properly anchored. Do you trust this construction method ? I do not trust this construction method:

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This is how the front section looked 6 months after it was built. The entire fence flaps back and forth in the wind, as there are no posts set into the ground, and only a small amount of DUCT STRAPPING tethers it to the previous chainlink fence posts:

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Did you know that the City of London’s fence bylaw does not even have a clause which addresses structural stability ? And that there is no requirement of a 24 hour commercial business with vehicular traffic to erect an opaque fence, if they are next to a residential neighbour ? There might be, for a new development, built from the ground up – but not for the Site-Plan-Absent ones that get grandfathered in.

The Hey Look At That Fence tag will take you through the saga:

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/hey-look-at-that-fence/

An even worse discovery was made after the gas station renovation was complete. The vent pipe for the gas station’s underground gas storage tank had previously been located on the northeast corner of the property – next to the industrial neighbour’s parking lot. In the 13 months I lived here, while the used car lot was open, I only smelt gasoline vapours once during a tanker fill. This was a day we were working on the kitchen, so we were in and out of the back door many times to access the saw which was set up outside. We could smell this in the yard. I never smelt gasoline in my house.

(That single pipe sticking up over the roofline was the vent location for the underground gas storage tank until spring 2018)

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When the station was renovated, the vent location for the underground tanks was changed. It was now located 4 feet from the property line. I thought little of this. That was until the day in August, 2018 when suddenly my entire house was flooded with gasoline vapours, which entered through my open windows. It was horrible. I photographed the tanker doing the fill and the driver was not even using the vapour recovery system, as required by law. This is where the real nightmare begins.

(Those three silver pipes on the left are the new location for the vent pipes.)

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https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/02/first-gasoline-infiltration-august-11-2018/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/10/boring-but-important-gas-station-vapour-recovery-system-explained/

I contacted the TSSA – The Technical Standards and Safety Association. They are the only entity with jurisdiction over liquid fuel handling. They are so opaque as to be obstructive:

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/02/hey-tssa-thats-not-okay-part-1-july-2018/

At first I was told they would not answer my questions without a fee of $ 120.00, and I would have to wait 120 days for a reply ! After much phoning and emailing I was finally given an excerpt from their Liquid Fuel Handling Code – which is not available through any library system, including University collections. I could purchase my own copy ($ 135.00 plus HST) though, from them. Their code, as it pertains to the vent location states:

ventpipescode.png

There was not even a code which addressed residences next to a gas station, bulk loading facility, etc. There was NO CODE for residential neighbours.

It took about a year, but I also discovered how far from a property line an underground gasoline storage tank was permitted to be: 1.5 m. That’s a little over 59″ ! Again there was no separate code for a residential property line. Despite the decades of documentation of LUSTS in North America – Leaking Underground Storage Tanks – that poisoned communities, contaminated groundwater and created clusters of Acute Myeloid Leukemia – this is acceptable code in Ontario in 2019 !

I made multiple complaints to the TSSA and the Ministry of the Environment Pollution Spill Reporting Hotline whenever gasoline vapours entered my home during a tanker refuelling. As the weather got colder, I discovered this would happen even with all my doors and windows closed ! And I had storm windows on most of my windows, weather stripping, and doors and windows that fit properly. The gasoline infiltrations would happen whenever there was a wind from the west or northwest.

Eventually the TSSA sent an inspector to my house. He came without any testing equipment whatsoever, and said that he was relying on his sense of smell to assess the issue. It turned out that this inspector was the same person who had approved the vent location to be relocated to 4′ from my property line, adjacent to all my doors and windows. How he had the authority to inspect his own work is beyond me.

When I purchased this house, I did not expect that my home would be periodically infiltrated by volatile and carcinogenic gasoline vapours, as a result of the TSSA’s actions, and that they would claim this vent location is acceptable within their code.

Wade through the Hey TSSA ! It’s Not Okay ! tag at your own risk:

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/hey-tssa-its-not-okay/

I did not expect that my pets would become ill or gravely ill after the renovated gas station opened in July, 2018:

https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/26/canaries/

https://blackpicketfence.org/2020/01/04/two-more-canaries/

I did not expect that I would need to consider the implications of waiting for my own Acute Myeloid Leukemia to happen. Benzene is an additive to gasoline. It has been known for over 100 years that workers, children and animals exposed to chronic levels of benzene develop blood cancers, cardiovascular issues, neurological problems. Some light reading about the effects of benzene exposure, and the effects of living close to gas stations can be found under the tag Health Questions, Serious Ones:

https://blackpicketfence.org/category/health-questions-serious-ones/

I have gone in circles phoning and emailing municipal, provincial and federal government entities about my issues with the gas station next door. Without exception, they have all deferred to the TSSA.

The City of London has a bylaw that smoking is not permitted within 9m of the entrances to municipal buildings and recreational facilities (https://www.london.ca/city-hall/by-laws/Documents/smoking-recreation-areas.pdf) but nothing on the books that a commercial entity is not permitted to fill an adjacent property with volatile and carcinogenic vapours.

There is nothing I can do to correct or mitigate the vent location. If I attempted to sell my property, I would need to disclose this extremely serious defect – that is not even a result of my own actions.

This blog is a documentation of my experiences with this matter, but I hope the information can help other people in this situation. This is disgraceful.

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Two More Canaries

(Image by Win Wallace)

Since the gas station opened in July 2018, I have dealt with five acutely ill cats, three of whom became so sick they needed to be euthanized. They had prompt, aggressive and thorough veterinary treatment. In the 30 years that I have had cats, fostered cats, helped stray cats I have never had to euthanize three cats within 10 months.

None of these cats were related to each other. None of these cats had a contagious disease. None of these cats were sickened as a result of a nutritionally incomplete or tainted diet. None of these cats had previously been ill with the conditions that led to their humane death. None of these cats were frail or super geriatric.

I can’t prove that the continous gas vapour infiltrations are the culprit. However, I think anyone in my situation would tend to wonder what WAS sickening the cats in my household. I believe what is happening is the cumulative effects of this exposure, that is affecting their immune system. If the exposure to the gasoline vapours were concentrated enough, the cats would all be in the same acute respiratory distress. During an infiltration they all act pretty normal. However – chronic exposure to benzene has been proven to induce a certain type of leukaemia in humans. Children are especially vulnerable to this exposure. There are cardiovascular, and neurologic effects that are well documented, too. Gasoline has many chemical additives. There used to be lead, until that was proven without a doubt to be heinous, and removed from the market. Who knows (except a petroleum industry chemist or researcher) what the myriad of additives to a particular brand of gasoline are ? What are the effects on humans and animals ? Has anyone connected the research dots yet ? Or is this information being suppressed ?

Tonight ( Jan. 4, 2020) there was another gasoline vapour infiltration. I photographed the tanker refuelling and it appeared the driver was not even using the vapour recovery system as required BY LAW. There was a WNW wind blowing. I started smelling gas at 5:30 p.m.. By 5:40 p.m. the entire house STUNK like gasoline. By 7:30 p.m. – I could still smell gas. My eyes burn and my head aches. Of course I reported this. The person who answered my call at the Ministry of the Environment Spill Reporting Hotline was a voice I have previously spoken to numerous times. I have to report the same details each time, then I get an ID number. I write this down. Then…nothing happens. The Ministry of the Environment has never issued a written document or report with regards to my numerous complaints. The TSSA has never given me a single report in writing either. Neither entity is responsible for even taking air or soil samples to prove what is coming out of the vent pipes is safe at this proximity !

Next Canary :

Grey Guy was a cat that appeared on my doorstep in the early winter of 2011. I had been getting local strays spayed/neutered/vaccinated through a new program in cooperation with the Toronto Humane Society (Toronto Street Cats). If a cat was friendly enough, it was placed for adoption through a local rescue organization. I had begun making connections with other people involved in rescue. At this time there were zero options for low cost spay/neuter. I lived close to a large social housing complex, and several rooming houses. Many of my neighbours on the street had a couple of pets, who were fixed, and for the most part responsibly cared for. The cat explosions were coming from the rooming houses and City housing complex nearby. More well off neighbours seemed to believe that giving the “irresponsible” (true but also untrue for people with no options) owners lectures about pet ownership would somehow create cat birth control. I knew the only solution was humane and kind action. Eventually a free s/n program was created for this area which fixed HUNDREDS of cats. This didn’t happen for at least a year or so though. Anyhow.

I had a box type shelter on my doorstep for local strays, and neglected owned cats. If the cat seemed like it had a sort of home, I would feed it and keep an eye out for it, and “Oops !” if I accidentally got that cat fixed.

One day there was a new cat sleeping in the shelter. I could see out my bay window onto the front step where the box was. This cat was a long haired grey one I thought I had seen before, one that was avoidant and shy. I brought out a plate with some food and water and the cat bolted out of the shelter. It was a long haired cat, covered in giant matts. It stunk like a dumpster. I quickly went back inside and hoped the cat would return. It looked very pathetic, with a runny nose and eyes, too.

I was relieved when the cat came back and ate the food I put out. It settled back into the shelter. I could see that it was pretty sick. I made a point of putting out warm, liquefied canned food when it appeared. It started to stay close by and would come running when I opened the door. Cautiously, the cat let me touch it. One day I saw the cat curled up on my next door neighbour’s porch furniture, just getting snowed on as it slept. This seemed horribly sad. I was able to line up a neuter appointment. I brought the cat inside and hoped for the best. Some cats are very relieved to finally be inside again, while others panic about the confinement. I could tell this cat was shy, but liked to be touched and pet. I kept him in the bathroom, with food and water and a soft bed. He seemed happy to get brushed and get the giant matts carefully trimmed off. He got fixed, with an ear tip. The rescue group that said they could take him suddenly couldn’t for some reason so he stayed with me.

He was always only ever called Grey Guy. He blossomed into an affectionate cat, with a sweet personality who liked other cats. His only deficit was that he was extremely shy about meeting new people. He was adopted by a nice woman who loved him and called him the perfect cat. However, her cat hated him and made his life miserable. She was in tears when she called me a month later and asked me to take him back. She visited him a couple of times afterwards, and even though she lived in low income housing on disability also brought me food donations for the local strays. She still loved him.

Grey Guy had always been easy going and healthy. He had a couple of bad teeth that caused him pain, that were extracted. This spring I suspected another tooth was flaring up. I noticed he was a little slower about coming for lunch, and didn’t want to eat dry food – only canned food. Over the weekend in early May I noticed he seemed to be breathing faster. He wasn’t hiding, or showing other signs of discomfort or sickness. I thought the increased breathing might be a sign of dental pain. At the back of my mind was the fear that he had congestive heart failure. There was a family of cats from my old street that had this gene, and all had succumbed to their bad hearts by the age of 8. All these cats looked very similar, though, with big heads, short hair, short bodies and big feet. They were black and white or orange and white. I didn’t think Grey Guy was related – and he was at least 10 years old. I watched his breathing anxiously for a couple of days. I previously had a cat with congestive heart failure, who threw a clot after his heart condition was overlooked by the vet. This was a traumatic and terrible outcome. I had also cared for a neighbour’s cat who suddenly went into acute heart failure, and had to euthanize a friend’s cat with known heart issues, while I was cat sitting. I decided to go the veterinary ER clinic, as I knew they had better diagnostic imaging than my regular vet. I was sort of resigned that if this wasn’t a bad tooth, that Grey Guy probably had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart, usually the left ventricle). This condition could be managed for awhile with medication, though it was not a “good” diagnosis. Nothing about Grey Guy appeared acute. That afternoon he spent laying in the spring sun, in the window, and seemed fine except for the mild breathing thing. A cat in congestive heart failure is typically struggling to breathe – and as they breathe their entire abdomen flares in and out with the effort. As it worsens they are open mouthed breathing and panting in distress. This was not what was going on, at all.

At the ER clinic they take a verbal history from the person, and do a visual once over of the animal. Grey Guy was very scared about being at the clinic, but he looked otherwise in good condition. I explained my experiences, and my concern, and they did an immediate triage after I signed the consent form. About 20 minutes later the vet called me into an exam room. She asked a few questions – like had he experienced any physical trauma like possibly being hit by a car (no). The X-rays were devastating. They revealed that Grey Guy had very extensive plueral effusion. This is where fluids collect in the pluera – the membrane around the lungs. This can happen after trauma, or as a result of cancer or heart disease. They could tell more by draining the fluid and analyzing it – but this was not without serious risks including infection or lung collapse, and the fluids ALWAYS come back quickly until the underlying issue is treated, IF it can be treated. This was a lot of information to process. I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Grey Guy was in the back in an oxygen tent. They took me to a different room with an oxygen connection, and brought him to me. Initially I thought that I would attempt to treat this. Grey Guy was in my lap with the oxygen hose just sort of wrapped around me, pointed at him. He still looked exactly like Grey Guy. For a cat as compromised as he was he looked great. It slowly dawned on me what the treatment would mean for HIM : being in a cage in a busy clinic, with injured and ill animals in cages all around him. Intrusions by many unfamiliar people, including large needles being poked into his chest. More Xrays and exams.

One of the worst things that can happen to a cat with heart issues in when they “throw a clot” (aka a saddle thrombus). This is where a clot forms in a chamber in the heart, and breaks free. This typically lodges in the junction of a major vein(or artery ?) that is shaped like wishbone that goes to each of a cat’s back legs. This is excruciating, and causes paralysis, loss of circulation and often tissue death. Diagnostic imaging can sort of see the clot forming (it’s described as looking like “smoke”) but that is not super precise. I had to decide whether to do nothing (unconscionable), begin treatment that had no guarantees of a positive outcome, though it might help for as little as 24 hours – or could give him days, weeks or months (but probably not a year or years). The only other option was euthanasia. I sat with him for a long time, asking him what I should do to help him. He was stressed out enough that even though we were in the room alone together, with direct oxygen, he was panting. He’d had an okay day. He had been hiding this major trouble from me so well. Some cats are very confident and brave fighters. He wasn’t. I didn’t want Grey Guy to have to suffer through days of painful treatments that might not help much at all. If it wasn’t heart disease but cancer, it had surely aggressively metasisized already. I told the vet that I had decided to euthanize him instead. She checked in a couple of times. I could tell she was holding the needle in her hand in the pocket of her lab coat. This felt like a horrible exam where there was no right answer.

I walked home with dead Grey Guy in his carrier after midnight. Spring trees were blooming with their beautiful fragrance. I felt like a murderer.

Did he just get the bad gene ? Lots of cats that don’t live next to gas stations develop heart problems. But Grey Guy did live next door to a gas station that is chronically poisoning the air in a house next door. Chronic benzene exposure induces cardiovascular damage in humans.

Grey Guy (euthanized May 6, 2019):

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Canary After That:

Rumpy lived at a feral colony in an industrial area of Toronto. A woman and her mother had discovered this colony by accident, and felt compelled to try to help the cats there. Even though they were pretty poor, and had to take two buses to get to the area where the cats lived, they fed the cats for years. Some other cat people heard about this colony and reached out to help with things like transportation, trapping and getting the cats fixed. The caregiver said Rumpy had been at this colony for years but was in rough shape. He had some sort of accident or bad fight and disappeared for months during the winter. When he showed up in spring he was thin and looked awful. She felt he wouldn’t survive another winter there.

Rumpy first stayed with a very experienced cat rescue woman, while he recovered from being neutered. Several weeks later, she still hadn’t made any progress with him. He was hissy and stayed stuffed behind the toilet when she tried to visit with him. He was transferred to a different foster home and given a nice bedroom. This woman was pretty elderly, and also couldn’t seem to make any progress with him, as he just hid when she came in the room. She was going to have out of town guests who needed the room, and she wasn’t confident he wouldn’t make a break for it if the door was accidentally left open. I said that I could foster him while she had company.

It took another very experienced cat rescue woman and I almost an hour to get him into a carrier. He ran away from us and stuffed himself into impossible locations in the small 10 x 10′ room. At one point both of us were laying on the floor under the bed, on different sides, reaching out to him, both unable to grab or direct him. I could brush him with my finger tips. While we were talking to him in a soft voice, trying to make a plan, I was able to stroke his neck with my fingers and it felt like he leaned into this, just a little ! Finally we got him, amid disbelief at his wiley ways.

I had a small room I used for foster cats. They had a window they could look out of, a small bench they could sort of hide under, a bed, a dishes and litter. There was no escape, except out the door, and no heavy or large furniture that was inaccessible.

The caregiver had described Rumpy as “friendly” but so far none of the fosters had seen this. When I went in the room with his lunch, he hissed at me. When I went in to observe him and talk to him he hissed at me. He was eating lunch and using the catbox, but ignoring catnip. It was summer so I had the victorian sash window open about 2″ for some fresh air. Rumpy sat on the window ledge, with one front leg and one back leg stuffed under the window, as though he could escape this way. I thought that there was no way that this cat was not feral.

Despite this, I kept visiting him, and he kept himself on the windowsill, with a large plant between us. At some point I reached out to him, and hesitantly touched him. He hissed at me, but didn’t move away. I started petting him. More hissing but he stayed in one place. I kept petting him and his bum went up in the air – like cats do when they like a certain kind of touch. I said “Rumpy !” (Previously he had been called Greydon that didn’t fit at all). I just kept petting him, he kept tolerating this. Periodically he would hiss at me. At some point I could feel him silently purring. This went on for a couple of weeks. It seemed pointless to transfer him again since I was getting somewhere. Gradually he let his guard down. At some point he decided that I was okay then that was it. He was not a feral cat anymore !

With Rumpy, it was like a light switch that was either off or ON. He was feral then NOT feral. I was an enemy then he FULL ON loved me. We got to know each other a little more every day. Rumpy had to unlearn some industrial parking lot ways – like he got really scared when a light switch or a tv set got turned on in a dark room as in his brain this meant “Truck !” Rumpy decided he liked to be in my lap but growled when I typed at a keyboard. He decided that if he was on a table and I was close by that he would stand up and hug me. Unlike most cats, Rumpy flapped his tail when he felt emotional – especially positive emotions – which was most of the time. If another cat was already in my lap Rumpy would jump up and just sit on top of that cat ! He was really bossy for such a small guy. And he LOVED catnip – he had just been acting like he didn’t to trick me.

When he was on my lap his fur would part to reveal old scars. He had damage to one of his eye’s inner lids, and most of the teeth were missing from that side of his face, like from a major impact. Rumpy had survived some rough stuff.

Rumpy fit in well with other cats. Much to my surprise, he became a cat who was very confident meeting new people and even liked little kids. For the first year with me he wouldn’t even look out the window and showed zero interest in going into my small backyard. He definitely did not want to give the impression that he ever wanted to be “out there” again. After a year or so with me he relaxed about this, then definitely enjoyed some yard time.

Rumpy was always a super healthy guy, despite his hard and unknown past. He had some bad teeth out in 2018 but that was it. His bloodwork then was excellent. His actual age was unknown. He was an adult when he entered my household in 2011. I am guessing he was at least 5 years old but he might have been older or younger. He had some prolonged snuffles that cleared up with antibiotics this winter.

When I moved to this house, he seemed extra excited about the factory parking lot next door. It was like “Home !” in that part of his brain. He was also excited to come inside and eat lunch, too. I was very cautious about traffic and other dangers, so I didn’t like to let the cats roam freely if I wasn’t around, and I always rounded them up to come inside.

In the middle of this August, I noticed that it was taking Rumpy longer to finish his supper, which was new. This went on for a few days, so I took him to the vet. He had also been doing some reverse sneezing – the same as when he had the cold this winter. I assumed he might have a recurring upper respiratory thing going on. I decided to get some bloodwork done, just to be on the safe side. He was his usual bossy self at the clinic and seemed great for a cat his age. We were sent home with some antibiotics for the suspected URI. The vet that I saw wasn’t working on Saturday so a different vet called with his bloodwork results. This was SHOCKING. Rumpy was in end stage renal failure ! His creatinine was 633 (normal reference range 80m-221 mol/L), his urea(BUN) was 60.6 (5.7 – 13.2 mmol/L), his phosphorus was 4.8 ( 0.9 – 2.0 mmol/L), and a bunch of other results were either crazy sky high or dangerously low. This was all extra strange in contrast to the physical condition of Rumpy. He was about 93% normal. His blood tests put him past stage 4 of IRIS staging.

Click to access 3_staging-of-ckd.pdf

I had three geriatric cats with kidney failure between 2005 – 2008. Kidney failure (or “renal insufficiency”) is common in geriatric cats. Typically they start to show symptoms in stages – like drinking a lot, losing weight, new barfiness or inappropriate peeing. As their numbers creep up they might become wobbly, or weak, dehydrated, and have a lot of other symptoms. With Rumpy’s awful bloodwork, he should have been barely able to stand, very stinky from the accumulated toxins and dehydration, twitchy and almost comatose. But the only symptom he was showing was slight inappetance ?! Since he had been at the vet on Thursday, he had taken several doses of the antibiotic and seemed to be now feeling about 97%. This made NO SENSE. I rushed to the vet on Saturday before they closed to purchase supplies for subcutaneous fluids, prescription kidney diet and probably some other things I don’t remember in my panic. The mantra I remembered from the cats with kidney failure online groups was “treat the cat not the numbers”. I was very confused. I posted to these groups with Rumpy’s information, and the replies I got were almost skeptical, as this as a picture made NO SENSE. I didn’t know if Rumpy was just going to die, like immediately or what to expect. He had Xrays to check for kidney stones, ureter blockages or visible tumours but there was nothing unusual.

I did some reading about Acute Kidney Injury – like when a cat has ingested poison or a toxin which causes kidney damage. While Rumpy’s bloodwork certainly suggested this was what was going on – Rumpy seemed pretty okay. It was all super weird. I did hours of research on Bromadiolone – the horrible anticoagulant that is used in rodent bait stations – the one the gas station has but three feet from the property line. Had Rumpy eaten a rodent and was now being poisoned from this ? Rumpy doesn’t have any teeth left, and was never a big rodent hunter or eater. He also wasn’t a cat that would eat anything for kicks. IF it was AKI – why wasn’t he extremely sick ?

http://felinecrf.org/acute_kidney_injury.htm

I admitted him first thing on Monday for a day of IV fluids. The staff was surprised by his good condition, his now great appetite. The vet who saw him was also shocked by his bloodwork vs Rumpy in the flesh. She made a bunch of calls to specialists, pursued information about different conditions that “might” be causing this. Nothing made sense. It seemed that there was some sort of infection that was responding to antibiotics – but what ? He was switched to a different antibiotic that was effective against things like hemobartonella and leptospirosis. Even those diagnosis were not a comfortable fit. It was all very, very odd. Was he just some kind of super tough cat ? I guess so.

I started all the things you do with a cat in kidney failure – sub Q fluids, diet, phosphorus binders, B12 supplementation. I had no idea if Rumpy was just going to fall over dead or what was going to happen.

He did a month’s course of antibiotics. His bloodwork was checked a couple of weeks after the first crisis/non-crisis – and his body was responding to treatment. His numbers were still terrible – but they were steadily dropping towards normal. What was going on ?

After he completed his antibiotics he seemed fine, then as every day went by he seemed less fine. Cats with kidney failure often have deep seated urinary tract or kidney infections. A urinalysis was run which showed no signs of infection. It seemed like some kind of infection was making him sick and affecting his kidneys – but what ? He was started on a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat kidney infections – in case he truly had a “silent” infection. He bounced back within a couple of doses and seemed fine again. What on earth was going on ?

During this time I tried to give Rumpy everything he wanted. He got lots of time in a sunny spot in the yard, he got to be jungle Rumpy sleeping in some tall weeds, he got to go in the front yard after midnight, and got carried around to see whatever sights he was interested in. He was 97% the Rumpy I had always known. I had no clue what to expect.

On Sunday Rumpy had a good day. That evening he seemed suspicious of his meal (which did have medication type things added to it, like all meals since this began) and wanted to eat another cat’s food. He barfed up his supper a couple of hours later and from that point seemed very unwell. I hoped it was maybe a GI bug. He wouldn’t eat that night or the next day. He still wanted to be held and was affectionate. Then he started hiding so deeply I had to look for him with a flashlight. He seemed wary and disoriented. This was really unusual.

Because he wasn’t in crisis, and everything about his situation was so complicated and weird, I didn’t think there was any point in taking him to the ER vet. The best they could offer was IV and some bloodwork, while I tried to describe all the things that didn’t make sense. If he had cancer of some kind – it wouldn’t respond to antibiotics. If he had an infection – where was it ?

I hardly slept and called the clinic the next a.m. Through tears I said that I hoped for the best but expected the worst. I said that I wanted some bloodwork done, and then we would go from there as to a plan of action.

Rumpy seemed like he felt obviously horrible – which I had never seen before. Despite this he made a fuss in the cab to the clinic, and made a fuss when his blood was taken.

His bloodwork was devastating. His creatine level was now 1200, and he was dangerously anemic. There were no realistic treatment options for him – since he had already been on the antibiotic of last resort (Marbofloaxin) for over a month. Aggressive IV might lower his creatinine levels to what – 1000 ? For a couple of days spent in a cage at a clinic ? I didn’t know what was killing him. I felt that euthanasia was the only kind choice as there was really no hope left.

I held him like I always did and he flapped his tail. They injected the sedative and he slumped a little, then the next shot was done. When his tail stopped flapping I knew he was gone.

What happened to Rumpy ? What made him so sick in such a very strange way ? Was he poisoned ? If so what poisoned him and how ? What infection devastated his body ? What infection can devastate an otherwise healthy cat’s body this way ?

Rumpy (euthanized Oct. 22, 2019):

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The first three canaries: https://blackpicketfence.org/2019/02/26/canaries/

It Gets Worse (July 2018)

I kept reading through the City of London’s site, thinking that there must be a section that pertained to residences next to commercial lots, with regards to fencing, lighting, etc. I googled things like “Gas Station Design” and “Gas Station Fencing”. Many communities DID have design guidelines for Gas and Service Stations, but London did not. Individual petroleum companies certainly had designers and planners who created the corporate look of their station, the style of the building and canopy, and how the lot was arranged. Since Esso and Mobil absolved themselves of the actual station ownership with regards to this location, there seemed to be no rules, bylaws, site planning or design consideration.

While searching for information I found this article on CBC about problems residents living next to a gas station in Scarborough were having:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/scarborough-residents-fuming-over-fumes-from-gas-station-1.3726943

Frankly this made my blood run cold.

I was oblivious to how a gas station functioned, except that there were pumps and underground tanks. I supposed that there were some kind of safety set up to prevent fires and explosions. I had noticed the new silver pipes, about 4′ from the property line. I hadn’t smelt any gas so I assumed that I was lucky and this set up wasn’t a problem.

We’ll need to come back to this picture. You can see my house, the short fence with my canvas privacy cloth. That dumpster is also sitting right there, boldly, with stuff that should be in the dumpster sitting beside it, as will become a habit. It is visible over my fence, and looks unsightly next to a house, I thought.

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This is when you pull back further:

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and further:

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This gives a better sense of how this station is on a higher elevation in relation to my house. It also shows where those vent pipes are in relation to the doors and windows on my house.

Hey – look at that ice locker sitting where a tire inflation compressor could be !

I did more searching, and contacted many departments at the City of London. The Building Division was NOT responsible in any way, shape or form for the location of these vent pipes. I chased around a couple of individuals in Site Planning for weeks until we were finally able to speak on the phone. While Site Planning would be responsible for  issues pertaining to a gas station’s design, with regards to elevation, the building design, lighting, traffic flow, garbage storage, etc., because this site had previously sold gas, and the existing building was renovated (no new construction) this property was utterly exempt from any Site Planning Approval Process whatsoever. It was assumed that there had been site planning done, from when the gas station was built. Since there was no change of use, or even a building addition, it was assumed that the Site Planning Approval (from when ? 1950 ?) was still valid, and did not warrant further inspection. The TSSA – Technical Standards and Safety Authority govern fuel safety. They were the ones who had approved this vent location.

Then I had to chase them around. Fuck.

Bonus (May – December 2018):

While major noisy work happened next door – ranging from hammer drills to jack hammers to earth movers and a couple of cranes – construction began on Hamilton Rd, from Egerton to approximately Chesley Streets.

This meant that the lanes on  Hamilton Rd were reduced, so seething drivers raged down my street. Many angry drivers tied up in traffic honked, swore, revved, turned up their awful music and fender benders and worse abounded. Dump trucks filled with earth and gravel also roared down my street, or sat noisily idling starting at 6 a.m. or so. Sidewalks on Hamilton Rd were torn up and the crosswalk light by the library on Sackville was gone. It was a big, noisy, dangerous mess.

Signs said this road improvement was supposed to happen between May – September.

What really happened was that by the first snow in November there still weren’t even sidewalks. If you needed to walk on Hamilton Rd, you could walk on a sloped, slightly gravelled ledge where the sidewalk had been, hoping you wouldn’t slip into the aggressive traffic only inches away. If you used a mobility scooter, wheelchair or pushed a stroller that was your bad luck. You had to go blocks out of your way only to discover that some streets like Trafalgar by the school were absolutely blocked to even foot traffic.

With the traffic light and crosswalk gone from Sackville, as a pedestrian you could either walk to Rectory or Egerton to use a safe crossing. Or you could dart across Hamilton Rd when it seemed safe, to scramble over cement barricades. When the road was more repaired and the lights put back up, drivers were now completely blind to these lights. I don’t know how many near misses there were. I don’t know how many times I pointed at the red light above as drivers tore through the crosswalk, with the walk signal on.

The parking lot at the factory next door was used to store large items used for whatever infrastructure thing they were doing, so there was a great deal of big sounds and vibration coming from that direction, too.

At some point temporary (I hope temporary) asphalt sidewalks were laid down in early December.

By October, after this had been going on since the beginning of May, new hairline cracks appeared in several of the walls I had repaired. Typically, these cracks happen if the joint  compound is put on too thick. Usually these cracks show themselves right away.

My walls had been fine in the 12 – 16 months since they were repaired, primed and painted. Then suddenly a bunch of these hairline cracks showed up on my the interior walls that faced an exterior wall.

Doors that had always opened and shut now wouldn’t close properly. Some wouldn’t close at all. These were doors adjacent to the exterior walls, close to the walls that had new cracks.

How could I prove what was happening ? who could I complain to ? John the carpenter planed the doors to make them fit again, which only took a few minutes, and I could fix the plaster and paint myself.

Did all the vibration from the combined construction cause this ?