I chuckled last week when I received an envelope in the mail addressed to me at 107 Dick MacKenzie Blvd here in Sioux Lookout. I get mailings at that address every once in a while (thank goodness we have dedicated postal workers who, like the RCMP, always find their man).
Bureaucracy demands answers that fit in the boxes.
A few years ago I bought a remote lot on a lake, accessible only by boat during open water season, and snowmobile during winter. The closest road and the closest electric lines are several miles away.
To construct a simple cabin required a building permit from the town. One stipulation of the permit was that the cabin be wired to code for electricity the same as an urban year-round full time residence. Although I protested that I didn’t want, nor intend, to have electricity - indeed, it would be nearly impossible because of the distance from existing transformers - I ended up complying with the regulation, at a cost of nearly $10,000. That, of course, increased the book value and the yearly taxes, for a feature I didn’t want. One explanation to me was that in the future somebody might buy the place and want electricity. I sighed with relief, happy that the writer of the law didn’t assume that a future owner just might want a swimming pool.
Once all was said and done, I must admit the wiring is a nice touch. I installed a modest solar system that runs a few lights, a small sound system for music, and plug-ins to charge phones and laptops. Heck, last year I even hoisted a chandelier, complete with dimmable lights, above the dining area table.
But here’s the silly part. Once the electrician had finished his job he had to make an application for a provincial inspector to come approve it. Part of that process entailed a phone call to southern Ontario headquarters to complete the inspection application paperwork.
The first part needed a street address. Despite considerable explanation that there was no street, therefore no street address, the southern holder of the pen that fills out the form would not budge. She insisted that the form had boxes to fill in that had to have that information. She could not conceive of a house without a street.
So, VOILA! How many people have a boulevard named after them?
It took another day, and a second person, though, to complete the form. The woman who finally got what she needed to fill in the address boxes balked real hard when she came to the section that needed the location of the source of electricity and was told there was no source because we weren’t putting electricity in. She couldn’t fathom that, and absolutely refused to sign a form without all the boxes filled in the way she thought they ought to be.
Eventually, everything worked out. Sometimes after dark I flip the switch to light up the chandelier, and I sit happily in the dim glow, and I smile because the ambience is pretty nice and I know somewhere in the mail an envelope addressed to me at my own private boulevard is on its way to Sioux Lookout.
Oh, by the way, last year we built an outdoor picnic shelter beside the cabin. I ostentatiously call it the White Pine Palace, but it’s basically a glorified beach umbrella - some posts in the ground that hold up the roof, and a wooden floor. No walls, windows, doors, or anything like that. Just a pleasant open air shelter where we can sit in the shade on a hot day and take cover from the rain on a stormy day.
We just got our latest MPAC assessment. The good folks at that office have never visited our site, but they have declared my palace to be a two-car garage with a pretty hefty value, although the nearest road is miles away and there has never been a car there, nor will there ever be.
We made a call to the MPAC office and they had an explanation. You see, they have this form with little boxes that have to be filled in…