Robert McKie stands in his backyard where his neighbour has painted racist symbols and words after McKie refused to pay for the whole fence. The fence is entirely on the neighbour’s property, so McKie can’t touch his fence. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Esquimalt man says neighbour painted racist slogans on fence

A man in Esquimalt says his neighbour has painted racist symbols and slanderous words on his fence after a disagreement in costs.

Former Esquimalt councillor Robert McKie has lived in his home for 40 years, but when a neighbour asked him to pay to replace the fence near their property line, McKie was hesitant.

“At first he asked me to pay for the whole fence, which was $1,500. The thing is, the fence is entirely on his property,” McKie said, adding that to be a good neighbour he and his wife offered to pay half.

“He said ‘it’s all or nothing.’ So we paid nothing.”

McKie said he was then told not to be surprised what he found on his side.

On July 31, neighbour Brock Davies put up a 135-foot stretch of cedar fencing, painted on the side facing McKie, with rainbows, Star of David symbols, skull and crossbones, and the word “cheap” followed by an image of a skate.

“It’s racist and derogatory,” McKie said, adding he’s neither Jewish nor part of the gay community. “It’s very garish and to me it’s an insult. I’ve been in this house for 40 years, and to have someone do that on my side of the fence is just wrong.”

Neighbour Brock Davies said that his property, which was subdivided from a larger property owned by his mother, hosted a large hedge as a divider for over 30 years, and an additional fence was built inside of that hedge barrier to surround a pool. When the hedge came down, the fence acted as a property divider that was actually several feet in from where the property line was. Davies said the McKie family built their garden about three feet into his yard, and that when it came time to subdivide and assess the property, they were unhappy to have to move their garden.

Davies decided to build a new fence along the actual line, but faced problems when he had to build a rock wall on his side because the McKies had elevated their property. As the fence line tapered towards a corner, Davies said instead of installing a rock wall, which needs a wider base for support, he could only install a concrete wall because the McKies didn’t wish to have it on their property.

Davies said altogether the concrete and fencing cost $12,000, and that he feels he was being reasonable asking for the McKies to contribute $1,500.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve done the right thing, I’ve done a very good job. I put in a beautiful fence,” Davies said.

When asked why he chose symbols that would be recognized as racist, Davies was adamant.

“I just picked some symbols, and symbols are artwork,” Davies said. ” [The McKies] are great supporters of Buccaneer Days in Esquimalt, so that’s the skull and crossbones. Its an Esquimalt novelty here, it’s not racial at all.”

When pressed about the Star of David symbols, Davies stood his ground.

“It’s just triangles, it’s a star. It’s got nothing to do with that, it could be any symbol. There’s hearts and bubbles, there’s all kinds of things on there.”

After Mckie took the issue to a bylaw officer, Davies was given until the first week of October to remove the symbols, though he is allowed to paint the fence any colour he pleases. Davies said he plans to just black out the symbols and keep the rest as it is.

“It was very difficult for me to take a beautiful product and paint it that way,” he said. “If they’re not going to contribute, should they be able to enjoy what they see when they stand out at the top of their balcony?”

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Robert McKie points at the fence where his neighbour has painted hateful symbols and words after McKie refused to pay for the whole fence. Here, McKie points out that on top of the panel it reads “Cheap” and underneath there’s an image of a skate. The fence is entirely on the neighbour’s property, so McKie can’t touch his fence. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

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