He was a retired professor with an immaculate backyard.
Across the fence was a young junk collector. Or at least, that’s what the professor saw. Actually, you could better describe the younger one as a hustler, a street-smart guy making money as he could.
But the stage was set anyway: Spiteful words. Bylaw called. More than once. It was spiralling out of control.
“Eventually, they were at the point where they were shovelling snow into each other’s yards just to escalate,” said Peter Windel, the volunteer mediator the City of Edmonton called in to help. This was too much for a bylaw officer to handle.
I went for coffee with Windel recently, curious about his role in a society that prefers lawyers to mediators. He runs a struggling non-profit doing incredible work in local neighbourhoods.
With just a $50,000 grant last year, the Mediation and Restorative Justice Centre accepted more than 400 referrals from city staff and 311 operators. In 176 cases, they gave coaching or intensive mediation to change hearts and bring healing.
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