Appeared in the North Shore News – February 15, 2013
MARGARET Davies is spirited, witty, and as sharp as the memory of a first and last kiss. She proudly lives independently in her small Ambleside house. She is 93. And she is a perfect potential victim of West Van’s Garbage Gauleiters.
Margaret, a Second World War veteran, has a property unconducive to humping four categories of waste to the back lane any time, let alone for a nonagenarian on a pitch-black, stormy morning. A wonderful friend living blocks away usually helps.
As noted here recently, town hall’s busy bureaucrats have issued a trash diktat more complex than the Treaty of Utrecht. Most repressive: On collection day you must put out your trash not before 5 a.m., not after 7 a.m.
West Van is not alone. Philip Till, CKNW’s morning man, writes me: “I am also a victim of the guerre de garbage. In the District of North Vancouver it is verboten to put the garbage out the night before pickup. But as someone who must leave home before 4 a.m. it is not possible to rumble my full-sized Scheafer down the laneway for fear of waking up the folks next door.”
Till is among many whose work, play or flight schedule doesn’t fit the preposterous iron window of 5-7 a.m. Who’s in charge: the citizens – or the bureaucrats and private companies whose contract conveniences themselves?
Mayor Michael Smith made a fair point concerning the bear-aware program: “We must get smarter in disposing of our waste for both economic and environmental reasons,” he replied in response to my request. The 7 a.m. deadline minimizes the time garbage is left out: “Garbage attracts bears and it’s cruel to the animals, as they often have to be destroyed if they have become a nuisance.”
My solution: Extend the deadline to a civilized 9 a.m. and have the collectors start and finish later. Few bears will turn up that late. Self-interest will guide most homeowners.
The mayor concludes: “Our employees are expected to use their judgment. We do not want to ticket residents who have a need to put their cans out earlier.”
. . .
The parking ticket issue is the stuff of fiasco: A bylaw, unknown even to insiders, that forbids parking in the same block twice in the same day, and allegations that the bylaw office told some protesters that they had no legal recourse, just pay up.
The first insanely punishes the driver who typically might park for lunch or shopping, then return to buy frozen groceries or whatever later.
The second is more serious. Challengers were misinformed, either out of ignorance or knowingly.
The fact is that anyone ticketed for alleged bylaw infractions in the three North Shore municipalities can challenge a ticket. First step: a screening officer will get in touch and may decide to cancel the ticket forthwith.
If not, and still unsatisfied? For a $25 fee you can demand adjudication – a little-known process, and in cynical moments I suspect municipalities are happy to keep it that way. Check the back of the ticket.
North Vancouver city and district and West Vancouver pioneered in agreeing to this system in 2004, bluntly because – contracted to a private agency – it’s cheaper all around than provincial court trials. The positive side: Much less formal, can even be conveniently conducted over the phone. The negative: Public and media very rarely attend (hearings are at North Van city hall). Recall the principle: Justice, to be done, must be seen to be done.
Praise for the editors of this paper – no sucking up here; I’ve given them many headaches in my time – for the pointed editorial and the editor’s note attached to Mark Chan’s letter published last Friday.
Chan has a long title encompassing a huge range: Director of lands, bylaws, First Nations and legal affairs. He has fought serious flu since December and I lashed myself for grilling him when he was so ill, especially about the allegations that the bylaw office misinformed ticketed callers. While on the phone he walked into the bylaw department and said he redistributed instructions on procedure regarding challenges.
Now an off-the-cuff ruling by Mr. Justice Lautens: The bylaw is faulty, too broad, and/or open to an officer’s abuse, because of these italicized words: “No person may cause or permit a vehicle to move from one location to another in the same block to avoid the time limit regulations specified in that particular block.”
Question: How can officers know the driver’s motivation – “to avoid” the law – unless they personally observe the driver get in a parked vehicle, move it to another space in the same block, and leave it? The three writers of letters published in this paper did no such thing.
I’d guess the officers just wrote the tickets, shrugged, reminded themselves they were just following orders, and left the drivers to pay up or stew in the procedural juice, and the hell with it.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013