Ottawa neighbours clash over roadside basketball

Ottawa's Manor Park neighbourhood may have to remove basketball nets from the roadside after one person complained to the city.

More than 30 people from Ottawa's Manor Park neighbourhood visited the home of a resident who is demanding area basketball nets be removed from the roadside.  The call for a compromise was not a slam-dunk.

The standoff — which echoes a debate the city had four years ago over road hockey —began when a bylaw officer approached nine homeowners in the area. The officer told them that someone had complained about movable basketball nets on the edge of Lonsdale Road and Eastbourne Avenue.

Natalie Belovic, a realtor and one of the homeowners, told CBC News there is no sidewalk in front of her home on Eastbourne Ave. The city employee explained to her that nets on the lip of the road violates a bylaw that doesn't allow streets to be blocked.

Belovic rallied neighbours to meet at her home on Monday evening.  They decided to take a petition door to door and suggested that adding reflective tape to the base of basketball nets could solve any safety issues.

"The nets have been around for years and have never really been an issue," she said.

The group of 30 adults and children who took the petition door to door didn't know who the anonymous complainant was, but quickly found the person Monday.

"We wanted to try and see if we could find the complainant…and reason with them, because if they do withdraw their complaint the city drops it," Belovic said.

Belovic said the complainant is an elderly woman who told her that she didn't care about reflective tape and that she simply believed the nets are a safety hazard. Her complaints had nothing to do with hooliganism or noise, Belovic said.

Pro-net group not intimidating: organizer

Belovic said the large group was not intimidating.

"We actually made it very friendly because most people stayed in the street," she said. "What was so great about it, it was like a little community event. Moms and dads and kids were out basketballing, walking down the street and playing and chatting, and only one or two people would attend at the doors."

Belovic said some people have already moved their nets onto their driveways, but that other homes including hers are on sloped properties.

She also said the nets, filled with sand or water so they won't tip over, are too heavy to easily move away from the edge of the road at night.

Ottawa has seen similar standoffs before: In May of 2007, city council passed a motion declaring that children had the right to play street hockey and that hopscotch chalk was not graffiti. Belovic is hoping for similar treatment now.

"We actually would like them to take the same stand exactly as they did with the road hockey situation, which is just basically to turn a blind eye and ignore the quote-unquote problem," she said.

Belovic said she still hopes to find a middle ground with the complainant, perhaps focusing on nets that may be a problem for the woman on her walkabouts.