Meet the Mayor
November 21, 2013
Sauntering blithely down the street with a 16 foot 2X4 balanced on his shoulder, Guy rounds a corner. The leading end of his 2X4 whacks oncoming Any Man on the leading end of his nose. Staunching the blood, Any Man protests the carelessness of Guy with the 2X4 but Guy defends his action by citing his freedom in a free country. To this the injured man rightly replies, “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.” It’s true. Whenever a population grows from one resident to two, the freedom of each to act without regard for the other is diminished. By the time a community reaches 3000 souls it has accumulated books full of rules for getting along.
Like every other incorporated community, Chetwynd has its share of bylaws dealing with everything from noise to dangerous dogs to how far from the property line you can build and the maximum size of the outbuilding in your own back yard. (By the way, this is not an exhaustive list of the bylaws affecting your life in Chetwynd.)
What should you, A. Citizen, know before you spend a lot of money or even some money on that renovation or structural addition to your property? Probably rule the first would be to discuss your plans with District staff before you commit to spending.
Chetwynd does have Development Permit Guidelines that help you plan your construction to conform to the zoning restrictions. Why? Because over time it is the intent of the District to build a community that will turn heads as people drive through town. And much more: we want a safe town in which we can take pride in everything from boulevards to streets and the buildings that face them. Chetwynd is an industrial town. We will never be a Jasper or a Kimberly, and that’s OK, but we see no reason why an industrial town should not have beauty and order in its buildings, and paving and shrubbery in areas that face the public.
Development Permit Guidelines, building permits, inspections: these are all part of getting along with our neighbours and building the kind of town that we all want and that we can achieve over time. When I was young and impressionable I attended university for several years in the USA. Usually the impressions came as I travelled north through the Dakotas into Canada. On the US side I passed through tree-shaded streets in pretty, orderly towns. North of 49 I entered a different world with broken-down combines and old pickups haphazardly littering the landscape. And I would wonder: Why does it have to be that way? Things have probably changed over the last 55 years but first impressions die hard.
Like it or not, we live in a world of permits: for building, for digging, for demolishing, for almost anything with potential to affect a neighbour. Yes, the long arm of the law even has stop-work orders for those who ignore rule the first.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor