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Dear Urban Diplomat: Our neighbours’ barbecue fills our backyard with unpleasant smoke. Can we complain?

Urban Diplomat: Hamstrung

(Image: Emilian Robert Vicol)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I have new neighbours who love to barbecue, which is fine, except that it’s almost always pork, which is not fine, because we don’t eat it for religious reasons. The heavy smell wafts into our backyard and makes my wife feel nauseated. I don’t want to tell them what they can and can’t eat, but I want my family to be able to enjoy our space. What’s the best way to deal with this?
—Hamstrung, The Junction

The city has bylaws to deal with neighbourly disputes over property lines, loud animals, unfettered weeds and raging parties, but inconvenient odours? You’re on your own. Your neighbours have as much right to enjoy their backyard as you do. If they were hosting regular pig roasts on an open pyre, I could see you lodging a complaint. But if they’re just grilling the odd pork chop, plug your nose, go inside or retreat to the front porch. Cities are smelly. If you can’t hack it, move to the country.

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  • Emil Pop

    So I don’t get it, barbecuing lamb all day would be fine?

  • inthehood

    We commiserate with Hamstrung. We live in a typical Toronto Semi and the neighbouring upstairs tenants have parked their barbecue up against the three foot fence between the properties and adjacent to our back door. Adjacent, as in two feet away from our back door. When we were on “good terms” with the next door upstairs tenants we asked that they move the barbecue and they complied by moving it exactly 12 inches away from the fence. A passive aggressive and low rent reaction! We complained to the owner of the property who did nothing. Our only recourse is to build a large fence and close our patio doors when they barbecue. In the end, we can only conclude that not everyone will be as respectful as we are. The new fence goes up this week.