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Mayor’s Column – May 31, 2017

May 31, 2017


Of all the issues that can come between District Council and good service to the community, land use has to be one of the most contentious. The potential to divide neighbours and create factions is almost on a par with that of an acrimonious divorce.

Chetwynd Council has been walking the thin line between differing opinions, hopes, and fears for several weeks. Two Council meetings have not brought us any closer to resolution of the differences and the facts of life teach us that there may never be a total resolution.

I will certainly concede that Councils, including the present Council have not consistently made the right decisions, not for lack of intent but usually for the misguided hope to effect a compromise in which we will all kiss and make up. Or is it make up and kiss? I am quite certain that in this best-of-all countries with our well-paid lawyers, courts of law, and traditions of rule of law and law keeping, we live much closer to the enviable state of peace and prosperity than we could possibly achieve in the Wild West. Sadly, one person’s peace is not always the neighbour’s prosperity and maybe the twain will never meet.

Enter the rule of law. When there is law and an agency that is charged with enforcing the law, we have the potential to create an environment in which citizens know the rules and are encouraged by a variety of pressures, including internal moral pressure, to live by the law. Organized societies as far back as societies were organized have recognized the vital principles of peaceful association. If two people are to get along on the trail each has to respect the other’s limitations and boundaries. If two hundred people are marching together the rules have to be expanded to meet the increased complexity. With three thousand people living in community the rules must be adjusted accordingly.

When Chetwynd was small we thought small and were able to accommodate behaviour that is not now acceptable. We are still small but we are not small. We have to adjust our thinking and behaviour to the times and conditions in which we coexist.

And this brings us to the discussion of law. Communities write bylaws to prevent chaos and anarchy in the neighbourhoods. In most jurisdictions bylaws are enforced in response to citizen complaint or notification. This probably is not the best of all procedures but it is the procedure that is affordable. Citizens are left to the rule of conscience. You all know that there are bylaws governing most activities including parking, business, dangerous animals, size of buildings, backsets, and keeping your sidewalks free of debris and ice.

If you don’t know, you know how to contact someone at District office who does know.

You also know that not knowing is not an excuse that frees you from the consequences of violation.

Chetwynd Council is aware of a number of sites in which violations may be occurring but which have not generated public concern. Owners of these sites know where they are and what is happening on them. It might be prudent to begin measures to rectify the situation voluntarily.

I am a believer in law. When bylaws are contravened remedies have to occur. Please note that I didn’t say that penalties have to be exacted but that could be one result. If we are to have peace in the community that we all want and deserve, then one measure of that peace will be the extent to which citizens respect the rules that govern our relationships.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor