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THE CONVERSATION: There oughta be a law

CAO David Cribbs in his office last week at Pelham Town Hall. VOICE PHOTO

Pelham’s bylaw enforcement these days leaves much to be desired, say some—but how much punishment do we really want

BY DAVE BURKET
The VOICE

By the end of next week, give or take a day, Pelham’s Chief Administrative Officer, David Cribbs, will have been on the job for five months. Between cannabis concerns and lawsuits, budget proposals, land sale negotiations, a newly unionized public works staff, an occasionally fractious council, and now a raft of bylaw enforcement issues, the 44-year-old solicitor might be forgiven for wondering whether he made the right choice to move east from London.

If so, it doesn’t show.

Cribbs welcomes his visitor to his office with something akin to the enthusiasm of a mostly well-behaved but not entirely calm Labrador Retriever. Asked if he’ll partake from a gift box of Timbits, he smiles and says, “I didn’t get to this size by saying no.”

Cribbs employs such self-effacement effectively, particularly when there’s unwanted news to deliver. He also tends to speak with a level of assurance that might strike the casual observer as bordering on the over-confident—more so, potentially, over the phone. In person, though, it’s evident that Cribbs possesses—and is possibly possessed by—reams of public policy knowledge, the sort of municipal minutiae that penny-pinching taxpayers by rights should welcome in a town CAO.

Following a recent spate of disputes between neighbours, appearing both as news stories and as letters to the editor in the Voice, the newspaper asked Cribbs to sit down and clarify where the Town is now on bylaw enforcement, and where we might be headed.

The following has been lightly condensed for brevity and clarity.

BURKET: There have been some bylaw-related disputes that have come up in the last little while, and provoked a reaction among many that the Town does not properly enforce its bylaws, or some of its bylaws. This is after a period during which maybe they were over-zealously enforced. So, at a fundamental level, how does Pelham enforce its bylaws now? Is it a proactive approach—where the bylaw officer is going out, seeing violations and writing them up. Or is it reactive—where a complaint has to come in in order to trigger any sort of investigation or examination.

CRIBBS: Our current response is reactive. We are staffed towards being a reactive force. Our staff complement is 1.5 persons for 60 total enforcement hours in any given week. A full-time bylaw officer, and a part-time bylaw officer.

And how does that work typically?

Well, let me throw a bunch of things at you. This community used to be far more enforcement oriented, and that ultimately created dissatisfaction. There was a fundamental change in our approach and it would appear that there’s a rising level of dissatisfaction with the emphasis being placed upon [voluntary bylaw] compliance. That’s what I infer from what I’m reading in the paper and hearing around town. So it is open to Town Council to dictate a general enforcement philosophy, and a general approach to bylaw enforcement, and we want to give them that opportunity. I think that’s an excellent thing for community debate, because then it guides what happens in individual instances. The right way to handle it is to have this discussion.

To have the discussion about how to enforce bylaws?

Yes. What the right approach is for the Town of Pelham. I’ve used the analogy of the awkward teenager. We’re experiencing growing pains. The new residents are almost universally from Hamilton, Oakville and Toronto. They are urbanites. I’m generalizing, but I will suggest that in a larger urban center, if the neighbour’s weeds are too long, the fence is too high, then you call the municipality to have that conversation.

While out here…

In a community the size of Pelham, I would tell you that historically you would know your neighbours, you know their names, and you are more likely to have that conversation with them directly, and that ultimately compliance is a smaller community goal, while enforcement happens when you’re sort of more socially detached. I look at Thorold, which has a thousand people more than we do and calls itself a city. Port Colborne has a thousand people more than we do and calls itself a city. At a thousand less, call ourselves a town. It’s about a mindset. But there’s objective proof that we’re growing rapidly.

Is there a legal distinction between town and a city, according to the province?

No, there’s not. It’s psychological and it’s about self image. We consider ourselves a town, and we’re having some urban enforcement issues. Short term rental is a great example of that. What you’re seeing across the board, whether we’re talking about cannabis, whether we’re talking about short term rental, it’s about being too close together. The 2020 budget included a 0.5 increase in bylaw enforcement, so next year that will mean 80 enforcement hours rather than 60. In addition to that, it included the provision of a student for the summer months, and we will have weekend coverage, which is not something we currently offer. Council heard the community and has responded.

Professionally, where do you come down on the scale from voluntary compliance to always enforcing?

I spent three and a half years as a customs officer at Pearson and almost five years prosecuting for the city of London, so I’ve been both enforcement officer and a prosecutor. I think the single most important thing is to have the right staffing, to have people who are dedicated to the purpose.

What is the purpose in this case? How do you define the purpose?

I define it as the public good. It always comes back to the question, what was the harm? Plenty of municipal bylaws exist in a fundamental way because of nuisance being caused. And that nuisance can be a barking dog, it can be the escape of a bad smell, but it can be weeds that are too long. It can be unsightly, rusted motor vehicles on the front lawn—things that impact your quality of life.

Right.

Now, we do have bylaws that deal with health and safety, the building code and the fire code. So if safety is involved, I think there should always be some sort of punishment. I don’t think compliance is enough. I think that’s entirely appropriate when safety is on the line. But assuming we’re not talking about a safety issue, then we’re talking about some type of nuisance, we’re talking about an impact on your quality of life and your quiet enjoyment of your property.

Isn’t it reasonable to expect, when you buy a house, that the area around it won’t fundamentally change without your agreement? For example, in R-2 zoning, without your agreement, your neighbour comes along and suddenly is renovating a home next to you, or down the street, into a multi-unit residence. Is that not harming your quality of life?

It’s the province of Ontario that has changed the rules. As our population increases, the province has changed the rules around planning and the philosophy around planning and they are encouraging infill development.

What does that mean?

That means that ultimately our official plan and our zoning bylaws are obligated to respect provincial policy—PPS, Provincial Policy Statement. As a practical matter, what it says is it’s a great idea to knock down a World War II-era 800-square foot bungalow and put up three enormous townhouses on that lot. So you can have 10 residents instead of having one small house with a beautiful large yard.

That’s the future?

That’s the law as it stands now.

Well, the law in Pelham, though, is that you have bylaws specifying what is and isn’t permitted in R-2, single family residential neighbourhoods. Should there not be some enforcement of the bylaw? Or do you say, “Listen, the future is coming, so we’re not going to do anything about this now.”

The Town of Pelham zoning bylaw was passed in 1987. This Monday, council authorized hiring one more person for the Planning Department. I am informed that we are the only municipality other than Wainfleet in the peninsula not to have a policy planner. That person’s first and top assignment is going to be to update our zoning bylaw. The 1987 zoning bylaw is, with respect, hopelessly out of date. We know our zoning bylaw doesn’t make reference to the modern planning era. So, to answer your question, yes, what it says on paper may not be supportive of the notion of intensification, but the province has changed the law. The previous Liberal government made a number of changes. The Conservative government has only intensified it, in fact.

What now is the theoretical maximum number of units that could be built on a lot that was formerly devoted to a single family home?

Generally speaking, the larger the parcel, the more units that can be put on it. That’s a fair statement. What isn’t realistically possible to say is that we have a quiet residential cul de sac and all of a sudden there’s going to be a 10-story high-rise. The planning doesn’t allow for that.

That’s a good point. How many stories could you go up? Let’s say it’s a single-story bungalow. Could you double or triple that?

If bungalows are coming down, you can certainly put up a second story residentially. That’s not considered out of touch with any neighbourhood.

Okay, theoretically you have a situation where you have multiple units, a second unit, being illegally added in an R-2 neighbourhood. What’s the Town’s current response?

It’s always facts-specific, but our staff are trained, they’re familiar with their legislation. You expect them to go through an intellectual exercise that essentially assesses the situation and tries to determine if there’s been noncompliance, and if you determine noncompliance, then is there a threat to safety? If so, immediate action is warranted. If there isn’t a threat to safety, is it order-appropriate? Is it charge-appropriate? Is there another way to get compliance? Has there been harm? These are all variables that need to be considered.

It sounds like what you’re describing is that, given this 30-year-old-plus zoning bylaw, that property owners may kind of be free to do what they want in terms of adding units to their homes or renovating properties in residential, in R-2 neighbourhoods, without a terribly great fear of those renovations being ruled illegal.

Well no, there are a number of reasons why that’s problematic.

As long as the building codes are followed.

Well, so that right there, that alone is a million-dollar question.

Let me be a little more specific then. Let’s say I go out tomorrow and I buy a home in a Pelham neighbourhood that’s R-2 zoned, and I don’t live there. I’m going to renovate it into a two unit property. I come to Town Hall and I take out the applicable permits for construction.

That would trigger zoning.

Right. So I would not be able to obtain the construction permit if I revealed that I intend to add a unit to the building?

That would trigger an application under the planning process to change the zoning on the property in question from R-2 to something else, depending on what you were trying to do.

So building permits would not be issued until that zoning was approved?

Correct. However, let’s say you apply for a plumbing permit. You’re going to build a bathroom in your basement. All right. Turns out you don’t stop there. That’s how you might improperly build a second unit. I’m just speaking hypothetically, you might only need one inspection. We might’ve only come to look at one bit of plumbing. You might’ve slipped one past the goalie. You might have created a second unit. So long as that unit wasn’t occupied under our current policy.

No furniture.

No furniture, no human, no sign of occupation. If we all of a sudden get some evidence that someone’s living there, then one part of us has to react to that, because all of a sudden now we are talking about [potential] harm. We should assume that there is more construction done than just plumbing, we should go back and look with a building inspection.

Moving on to another recent topic. Fences. When my wife and I moved to town we wanted to put up a fence—for the dog, for privacy. We went to Town Hall, spoke to the nice people upstairs and got the details of what was legal, what wasn’t. They printed out a copy of the bylaw, and we followed that to the letter—even coming a bit farther into our property than we had to, off of the public boulevard. There are people out there who are not as scrupulous in following the applicable fence bylaws. If you had a case where someone built a fence over the property line, on the neighbour’s side, or built too high, the municipality I presume would respond to this?

No. If I build on your land, I’ve trespassed, but the municipality has no role or interest whatsoever. That’s a private dispute as between two private citizens. We’re going to assume it’s homes, but it could be businesses, wherever. That’s a trespass. It’s a private right of action. The municipality has no skin in the game. You’re allowed a six-foot fence, you build a four-foot fence on your neighbour’s land. It is not for the municipality to get involved in that. You have plenty of property rights—consult a lawyer. Now, fence height—

There’s no applicable municipal bylaw?

We don’t have a bylaw that says you can’t commit a trespass. The Trespass to Property Act has that. Your neighbour arguably is stealing six inches of your land. If he or she builds onto your land, yeah, they’re keeping you from accessing it, but that’s a private dispute as between two individuals. There is a court system for private disputes. Now, the height of a fence can have public impact in health and safety, and can, in certain instances be a nuisance.

Okay.

So to come back to our first principles, is there harm and is there a legitimate nuisance? First off, fences in front yards often do have implications for health, safety and municipal operations. Every fence bylaw with which I am familiar always requires lower fence heights in front yards than they do in side or rear.

For visibility?

It’s for first responders to be able to figure out what the house number is, to be able to see and clearly to be able to assess the lay of the land. There’s a public interest in enforcing that.

The enforcement in this case is for the protection of the property owner.

Yes. Even if they don’t feel it.

And side or back fences?

Municipalities typically limit the height because amongst other things they’ll cast shadow where you are much closer together in a smaller lot sizes, which more possibly will have a negative impact upon your quality of life than if you have a 10-acre or 20-acre property. Come back to our first principles. If you’re one inch over, if you’re three inches over, you’re casting no shadow, you’re not impacting your neighbour’s capacity to grow or enjoy his or her property, but technically you’re an inch over. Well, the Town could issue an order to bring that down, which might mean just cutting the metal spikes off the top of an ornamental fence, it might mean taking a buzzsaw across—God help us if it’s concrete or stone—but you see where we’re going with that.

Right.

Probably making something a lot uglier and certainly costing someone some money. There is a technical offense, but is there any harm? And ultimately that’s got to come down to the officer making some determinations. And lastly, are they being used as a weapon of reprisal of some sort? The old adage is true— good fences make for good neighbours, bad fences make for bad neighbours. I think that’s a golden rule we can all live by and we should all comply with, because even if you can get away with an inch or two, why do that, when you’re living next to people.

What you’ve lost in goodwill is far worse.

Yes. It’s not worth an inch or two. Please quote me on that. I’m quite happy with good fences make good neighbours, and the opposite is true.

You mentioned rusting cars on lawns a while back. In theory, if you had a boarded-up building on a major thoroughfare, it’s been there for a decade-plus, what sort of enforcement options are there to turn that eyesore into something that’s not quite as ugly?

Two ways to tackle. The first is property standards. If you’re leaving a property to simply collapse, then it usually means you aren’t taking care of the lawn. It may well mean you’re prepared to dump refuse, be that old refrigerators or whatever. Municipalities to have the power to enter on the lands and to bring them into compliance. That’s for the generic sort of visual things.

Okay.

With respect to structures, the Building Code Act applies to any building in the province. Benign neglect is a strategy exercised quite frequently in agriculture and in larger cities where property values are really high. Landlords will simply let buildings start to collapse, and then they’ll qualify for demolition permits and it’s a way to attack heritage buildings. The only way to tear down the heritage building is to have it be declared structurally unsound, and the way to get it declared structurally unsound is to allow it to fall into benign neglect. But if it comes to the municipality’s attention, then certainly we have our inspection powers and orders can be issued to keep something safe.

What starts this process in Pelham? Would a resident have to lodge a complaint with Town Hall to say, “Look, this building has been bugging me for years. I’m tired of looking at it, do something about it.”

Under our current policy, yes. I would hope that our enforcement staff, if they drive by self-evident infraction would feel that they could take action. But we are only reactive. So at the moment, we only engage our enforcement arm as a result of formal complaints, and at the moment, those have to be in writing. I can tell you the policy I intend us to bring forward will end the requirement for there to be anything in writing. I don’t think that’s in accordance with best public practice. The point is, have you effectively brought it to our attention? To me, that’s the test rather than a requirement that something’s in writing. That’s actually used in a number of places.

Plus I would imagine some people would be concerned they would be subject to retaliation for bringing a complaint against either a neighbour or a well-connected business person, something like that.

I have every reason to believe that the Town of Pelham exercises its powers, its tact and its diplomacy to hide the identity of complainants. Certainly while I’m here we always will do so. I don’t think people should have to be exceptionally brave to ask us to provide the services that we’re expected to provide. But the notice has to be something—phone or email. This isn’t Crime Stoppers. We’re more than 100 square kilometers, and we’re going to have just 80 enforcement hours, assuming no one’s sick or on vacation.

That seems more than adequate for what’s still a small town. Are there that many violations out there?

I don’t have specifics to give you but consider what’s come up just since July. Cannabis, short-term rentals. In the last few weeks we’ve had complaints about fences, property, land use. All of those have enforcement as some component of them. It’s because I believe we are that awkward teenager and we’re growing and we’re experiencing those growing pains.

Let’s see. Parking. I used to see in both Fenwick and in Fonthill a bylaw officer out ticketing pretty frequently. It’s been a good while since I’ve seen that level of enforcement. Are you aware of any change in philosophy toward parking?

I’m unaware of any change. That would be part and parcel of a general enforcement policy, which again will be presented to council. I expect the parking issues as we urbanize and grow, these will grow exponentially, not increase slightly. They won’t be in proportion to our population growth, they will be exponential because pursuant to provincial policy, we’re going to end up with far more people in our urban core than elsewhere. Intensification at some level is going to happen here and whether the town likes or not, because that’s a provincial decision. At the end of the day, council can make some decisions which slow that growth, but it’s inexorable and we have to be in compliance.

Commercial signs. Lately I’ve heard from a couple of business people who use portable promotional signs. Not on public property—on commercial, private property—and they follow the sign bylaws, but say that competitors don’t. I don’t know if it’s a month, or two months at a time, that you’re permitted to have a portable sign out, and the competitors’ signs are out longer. They’ve also said that if a sports team, say, is doing a fundraiser, they’re free to put their signs on the public boulevards without any fear of them being removed by the bylaw officer, and say this isn’t fair.

I spent two hours yesterday reviewing the draft of our new sign bylaw. We undertook to council about six weeks ago that we would bring back an updated sign bylaw. I anticipate that there will be criticism that it will be far too detailed, but we are borrowing the best pieces from other municipalities and pieces that have been tested before various courts and tribunals. The key to a good sign bylaw—it’s kind of like the income tax act—it needs to be really specific about what is and is not allowable. And sign bylaws are an area in which discrimination is allowed. Unlike most walks of life, the purpose of a sign really, really matters and a properly drafted sign bylaw completely allows you to put a sign on your front lawn that says happy 60th birthday, Fred, with a bunch of flamingos for a day or two, and that’s not a violation. That’s fundamentally differently than a neon sign that’s on 24 hours a day, glowing far too brightly in a commercial plaza.

Or in a residential area.

The municipal lawyer in me is extremely happy, but what we’re going to produce is about as thick as your thumb. It will address all of those concerns. It’s up to the will of council whether they pass it or not, but the new sign bylaw that we present to council will be as good as any in the province of Ontario. It allows for speech and protest, but it doesn’t allow for nuisance and negative impact and causing harm to others, whether that’s economic harm between competitors or just impacting your quality of life by not having to have something commercial in the middle of your pleasant cul de sac.

When you say that the proposed bylaw may considered overly detailed, is that another way of saying overly restrictive?

There’s just a lot of content within it. The goal is really to reflect the wants and needs of the community about what is and what is not acceptable. Pelham as a community, except along Highway 20, is fundamentally residential, and I think our approach to signage should reflect the fact that this is the place you live. In a predominantly residential context, you want a sign bylaw that falls more on the restrictive side than the permissive side, because the dominant use of land in this community is for homes.

I don’t think any councillor will lose votes by bringing forward a restrictive sign bylaw compared to what’s been the case. Aside from a handful of businesses, particularly in downtown Fonthill, I don’t think anyone wants to see a greater number or vulgarity of signs than we already have now.

This will have teeth and it’s an enormously improved product.

A lot of complaints have come into the paper about cannabis odour. I don’t know how many have come into the Town. I assume a fair number. I know that bylaw officers have been monitoring odour, particularly near CannTrust. The present bylaws seem inadequate to address the issue. The Cannabis Control Committee has taken this on board. What is your expectation that there’ll be some effective enforcement to relieve people’s anxiety and the discomfort over these odours?

The Control Committee has done yeoman’s work and is working towards bylaws that are well-researched, well-grounded in science. I suspect that we will become the role model in Canada. I can’t tell you when exactly those are going to come into force, but somewhere in the next nine months—ultimately that’s the decision of council. What I can say, and should not be forgotten, is that under the federal licensing, those who have licenses to grow cannabis are required not to release odour. There’s already a rule in place that says you may not do this. The municipality is not the enforcement agency, the federal government is. And Health Canada, to my knowledge, hasn’t charged anyone, anywhere, or taking any action, anywhere.

Anywhere in the country.

I can’t point you to a single instance. Perhaps there is one. Frankly, I wish there were and one would think they might start here in Niagara. We’re trying to make sure we stay within our jurisdiction. We’re finding a way forward that will allow us to do what the federal government through inaction is failing to do.

When you’ve got a good proportion of the entire town suffering these odours, what hope is there, given the void in federal enforcement, that the Town actually will be able to do something?

I think it’s highly realistic that we will have a regulatory regime, with multiple bylaws, that will address resident concerns. Staff are working quite hard. The Cannabis Control Committee—the people who volunteered on that—have put in hundreds of hours. I realize people want to suggest we’re moving at the speed of government, and all I can say is that it’s complicated, it’s hard, and we’re really stuck here because of the three orders of government. We’re the only one, I would submit to you, being responsive. So we’re just trying to find a way that’s legally defensible to address a substantial community issue. We’re just trying to get it really right, because as we sit here, we have multiple cannabis companies challenging to our interim control bylaw. The optimist in me would like to ensure that whatever regulatory response we take is unassailable or something close to unassailable.

All right. Anything we’ve missed that’s bylaw related?

Just that what I’d like people to understand, or appreciate, is that the challenges we’re seeing aren’t a result of either our citizens being rotten ne’er-do-wells, or indifference amongst the staff here, all of whom care about the community. It’s that we’re faced with an increased population, and being closer together, and land use and compatibility. We are working our way forward philosophically. I really think that there’s a very good conversation, and hopefully a lively debate to be had by council in the coming months, when they see an enforcement policy. That’s something that we should have public input on, so that we go whatever direction we choose—where we want to move the pendulum. We’re trying very hard to balance competing property rights. The reality is almost every bylaw enforcement complaint involves two parties, and is going to result in dissatisfaction of one of the two. Either you don’t like enforcement action being taken against you, or you feel somehow government’s failed you because it won’t issue a charge. Well, there are dozen reasons why you might not issue a charge, but one of the two parties comes away aggrieved, which is part of the reason why compliance has been the general enforcement philosophy. If you can make the problem stop, you haven’t particularly favored one side or the other, hopefully you’ve ended it for going forward.

But “compliance” implies that the offense be eliminated. If you are saying, “Please comply with the law,” you are telling the person who is not compliant with the law, whether it’s fence height or an additional unit in a building, “Stop it.”

Well, half compliance can also be viewed as half a loaf. If we’re going to use the fence analogy, your fence is noncompliant.

Okay.

So we have two choices. You can cut it down to comply, or we have you cut it down, and on top of that we charge and punish you. In the second instance, I would submit to you that the costs incurred and possibly the ugliness created contains a punishment, but it’s half a loaf to each as opposed to obtaining compliance. The police officer can give you the ticket for speeding or not give you the ticket for speeding, but either way you don’t speed away after you’ve been stopped. You drive away under the speed limit. So you’ve got the compliance. The question is did you need the ticket?

Okay, but in the fence analogy here, I still don’t get where the compliance is. You’re saying there were two choices, which both sound like enforcement. Cut the fence down to the correct height, or punish them for it being too high.

Or you can do both.

What if you do neither, though?

What if there was no harm? Or what if you don’t think you can prove it? Or what if are there any number of things?

It’s not compliance or punishment? It’s accepting, for lack of a better term here, it’s accepting the situation, accepting the violations?

Compliance comes in different forms.

But you’re not complying with the law in this case. If the law says the fence can only go up to six feet, and it’s seven feet.

What if it’s a barking dog. Is it compliance if I show up, as the bylaw officer, and the dog stops? Then I go away, and it starts barking again? Or, generally speaking, you’ve had a dog bark every day for seven days. Then it goes a month without barking again, and then it barks once. Compliance means different things in different contexts. We’re working towards a policy conversation, and from that to receive our guidance in how we should address these issues in the future. And virtually all of our challenges are coming about as a result of growth. This happens in every community. Toronto once upon a time was 20,000 people. Barrie once upon a time was 20,000 people.

That time long predates you and me.

It certainly does, but every community, assuming it grows, experiences change. Change is challenging. Change is difficult, and we’re doing our very best to adjust to it, and I just want people to understand we are taking it seriously. There’s no flippancy—we understand that this goes to quality of life and that’s what your municipality is really here for. Some health and safety stuff, keeping the roads plowed, salted, et cetera. But beyond that, it’s about quality of life. I think 2020 is going to see a very different nuisance bylaw than we currently have. A much more robust one, that should address multiple challenges the community’s facing.

Can you be specific?

I think there is a new potential nuisance response to some of the extremes that occur with short-term rentals. I think there’s a potential bylaw and regulatory response to at least some of the instances. The loud parties, the focus of complaints. I think there’s a potential regulatory approach to odour in our community.

Not just cannabis or mostly cannabis?

I think the dominant complaints seems to be cannabis, but really what we’re talking about is addressing odour.

Okay.

And I think those all belong properly in the nuisance bylaw and currently our nuisance bylaw is about two pages long or so, and I think it’s a tenth the size it should be to appropriately address the challenges we’re experiencing.

Don’t you think people in general welcome regulation? Don’t you think most people want to know what the rules are, and to follow them and to live under a system of law—rules and regulations?

I think humans are complicated. I think where I want laws really complied with are things around my home life. I don’t want the neighbour’s dog barking. I don’t want the neighbour playing the stereo too loud. I don’t want your fence to be a mile high, et cetera. I don’t want you to have rusty cars on the front lawn, so it goes. I think we generally speaking don’t like a lot of regulation when it comes to the economy. I think if I can sell more than you can, good for me and bad for you.

I’m just talking on a municipal level.

But even there, under the Municipal Act we can license businesses.

Okay. So so a business running out of your home, for example.

We could license taxicabs. Here, actually, the Region does that. But we don’t currently license businesses. If you go to Toronto, the city of London, where I recently came from, they license barbers, hairdressers, massage parlors, pawn brokers. I can go on and on. We can license virtually any business. This Town hasn’t tried to regulate commerce in any way. It has a number of powers it’s not using because presumably there’s no demand for that. I would agree with you, though, that generally speaking people do like to know what the rules are, and people do want some sort of a civilized society, and it’s our job to provide what people want.

It also goes to a fundamental sense of fairness that we’re all playing by the same rules, we’re on a level playing field. No one’s taking advantage of the system. When we see someone seeming to flout the rule of law, it’s offensive to us.

It gets visceral. In all of this, at the end of the day, if the government doesn’t react the way you wish it to—whether we’re talking about local bylaws, provincial offenses, federal regulatory offenses, whatever that happens to be—you can swear information in front of a justice of the peace and start a legal process.

Right. Thanks for your time.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

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1 Comment on "THE CONVERSATION: There oughta be a law"

  1. Wow, am I confused. So there are bylaws on the books and bylaw officers to enforce said bylaws but the town does NOT enforce them? Why are zoning, fence, development bylaws successfully ignored by offenders?
    Time to fire existing staff and their bosses and replace them with people willing to actually do the job they were hired to do.

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