Bylaws practice feels like unnecessary harassment

Kamloops Daily News
February 4, 2013 01:00 AM

I understand the frustration and exasperation that Laurel Wilms (Bylaws Staff Have Time On Hand, The Daily News, Jan. 31) is feeling!

Back in 2009, on a Sunday morning, while I was attending university as a mature student, my husband decided to take the kids and dogs to the park for a walk (money was tight and this was a cheap activity). He took them to McArthur Island, not realizing that this park does not allow dogs. It never occurred to him that a park would not allow a dog.

He and the kids and our two small leashed dogs were walking along merrily when they encountered some people engaged in illegal activities (smoking some wackytabacky, drinking alcohol and overnight camping).

My husband quickly changed direction to avoid these lawbreakers when they were approached a short time later by a bylaws officer.

The cheap family outing turned into a nice $200 fine. When my husband asked why he was receiving a ticket and the lawbreakers were not, he was frankly told "homeless people don't have money to pay the fines." Hmm.

Neither did we. For our children this was an eye opening lesson regarding the fairness of the law.

Fast forward to November 2011, from that ticket in 2009, we were now on the bylaws radar.

While my husband and I were not at home, a bylaws officer knocked on our door. Our 13-year-old daughter answered. The bylaws officer then proceeded to question our daughter regarding how many and what dogs we had.

They were not at our door because of a neighbourhood complaint or a specific incident. No, they were there trying to make up their annual budget shortfall by going back and digging up finances wherever they could. Just like with Ms. Wilms, we were guilty of not keeping the City informed of what animals we had in our home.

Might I add that I'm sure 90 per cent of Kamloopsians do not phone the City to keep them advised of their animals.

Well, OK. I will pay to license my dog. I don't agree with it, but it's the law. What I want to know is - what about the morality of bylaws officers harassing the general public (who have not caused any mischief whatsoever) in order to make up their budget shortfalls?

What about the morality of questioning and harassing 13-year-old children in the absence of their parents?

What about the lesson taught to my children that bylaws officers are a negative, political arm of the law aimed at generating monies from the public versus protecting the public from danger and crime?

I hear your frustration Ms. Wilms, and I cannot agree with you more that this arm of the law definitely has too much time on their hands. Or could it be that perhaps their focus is right where our local government wants them to be - digging into the pockets of the regular folk whenever they can. It reminds me of history and lords charging townspeople for the right to live - just because they could.



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