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One person's garbage is another’s treasure

For Gretel Meyer Odell making kids costumes is just one of her many creative outlets.

For Gretel Meyer Odell making kids costumes is just one of her many creative outlets.

Take her home in Brockton Village, for instance. Her family has used handmade and recycled items to decorate the home’s exterior: A yellow sun cut out of plywood; a papier-mâché lamp; and a painting found abandoned in Parkdale. Stacks of old tires, used as planters in the summer, line the perimeter of the property.

The combination, to Gretel, is beautiful. “It’s an expression,” she said. “It’s a conscious expression of us as a family.”

Which is why she was so shocked to learn that someone else in the Dundas and Lansdowne neighbourhood thought it looked like garbage.

Last Friday afternoon, Gretel noticed something had been taped to the door. “Notice of Violation,” it read. “Owner of land failed to clean and clear refuse that has been thrown, placed, dumped or deposited ...”

“I had shaking knees,” Gretel said. “I was furious. Incensed.”

A local municipal standards officer had taken issue with a pile of rocks in the front yard.

“How do you decide what’s garbage and what’s art?” Gretel asked. “Where do you draw the line?”

Gretel has since given in to the city’s notice, moving the offending rocks to her backyard.