Andru McCracken, Editor

By Andru McCracken, EDITOR

A tomato plant reaches for the sky, a harbinger of good things to come.

It seemed like an innocuous question, but when McBride resident Jason Gardner wondered whether vacant houses in the community could be used by people looking for a home in an online post, he almost broke the internet.

The good people of McBride were piqued.

“You don’t know what other people are going through,” said someone.

Gardner repeated his observation: McBride has many vacant homes, quite a few homeless people.

The intensity of the replies increased.

“You can’t tell people what to do with private property,” many typed, angry now. Some replies were all-caps.

Some outsiders made some reconciliation attempts.

“Maybe those people are dead,” they offered.

After about 137 replies, commenting was turned off.

The moderator said it was too repetitive. It was repetitive to be sure.

The thing that I gleaned from the question and the reaction to the question was counterintuitive: There is no connection, nor could or should there ever be any connection between people who are without a home and the apparently vacant homes of McBride.

Gardner made another post complaining that no one had proposed any solutions and restated the obvious: McBride has lots of vacant houses and quite a few people without a home.

The thread took off again and this time it was throttled early: comments were turned off after 80-some replies.

Eventually, the threads disappeared altogether and all that remain are the meme-ish rebuttals.

Later, folks wondered aloud whether Gardner had peeped into their windows. This man, who believes that people without homes and homes without people could be matched, must be a deviant.

Had Gardner first asked about landlords and their financial well-being, how things were going for them while they were forgoing rent as their unoccupied properties fall into disrepair, I’m reasonably sure his observations would have been well received, but Gardner had it backwards.

Housing, insofar as it is private property, is sacred. The right to live in a house when you are homeless? Not so much.

The posts are now deleted for good. Canadian homeowners can be at ease. Homes here are private property. Owning one is a right, renting one a privilege and whether or not you have a home is nobody’s business but yours.

Just one awkward thing remains: There are tonnes of vacant houses and quite a few people without a home.