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My Mixed Bag Column

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell

As I come off my own deadlines, it’s time once again to meet the Times deadline.

Here’s a collection of things that have happened since my last column.

Special Events Bylaw
Wanted, dead or alive. Mostly wanted dead. But probably still alive.
Since my last column, there was a groundswell of panicked social media response, from Facebook entries to bloggers on the site.
I heard from a couple of Council people, and the consensus there is that the bylaw requested of the planning committee did not meet the intent of Council, which, it is claimed, was to make it easier for events to happen, which were previously shackled by the Noise Bylaw.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You don’t fix bad bylaws by adding more bad bylaws. This, in my world, is what used to be called ‘common sense’.
You probably know that I’m not a fan of legislation and rules to fix problems. Especially if we have to pay for them.
I always cite the case of the crazy guy on the Greyhound bus, who slit the throat of another passenger. We knew he was crazy. We knew anyone could hide a knife anywhere. And yet the knee-jerk reaction caused the bus line to search every bus passenger before they could board.
It was about as effective as having a snappily-dressed Greyhound guy ask: “1) Do you have a knife?, and B) Are you crazy?” (Yes, that was intentional. I’m assuming the ‘new guy’ was an out-of-work university graduate.)
The point of this is that we’ve all been swallowed by a system in which we turn to governments to solve our problems, and protect us with legislation. And thereby, inch by inch, lose our instinct to protect ourselves.
We have so much damn legislation, that we are (supposedly) protected from flying through a car windshield by seat belts and air bags everywhere, falling off a bicycle and, God forbid, catching a sliver off a wooden playground slide.
We now need to post signs at UCW smorgasbords that say: “Warning, this food was not prepared on premises and inspected by a Ministry of Health officer.” Are you kidding me? That dangerous food prepared in County kitchens is way, way healthier than that frozen crap you buy in the supermarket – meat that has a suspicious expiry date of December 2018!
In any event, building a bylaw to fix a bylaw is like using Gorilla Tape to fix a nuclear reactor leak. If the original noise bylaw (and I fought against that, too) is the problem, maybe fixing that bylaw might solve some of your problems.

The Skyway Bridge
This is a tough one … I’m sure we all agree on that. Council has rightly called in a professional to assess the situation and – though I despise consultants – the approaches and possible expenditures are all over the map on this one.
Options are hitting the table like hailstones. Everyone knows the problem, nobody knows the answer.
In a better, non-Wynne, world we might have had the money to do it. Also, if the province had lifted their collective asses out of their seats and built a much-needed ‘floater’ ferry to serve in times of maintenance, repair and emergencies, this would be at least a modest solution.
I lean toward the proposal that a new bridge be built beside the existing one, For two reasons:
1) This is how the Belleville skyway was built, while the old steel swing bridge was corroding away and, 2) The new bridge does not need to be as high as the existing bridge.
Nobody seems to realize this yet, even though it could save millions. The height of the current bridge was required to allow freighters to navigate to the LaFarge cement plant at Point Anne, between Deseronto and Belleville.
LaFarge is gone, and Pt. Anne is little more than a ghost town.
So really, you only need a bridge as tall as the mast of a decent-size sailboat. I’m not a boater, so I don’t know what that height might be, but I suspect it’s way lower than the peak span on the current bridge.
This, of course, would make it impassable for giant yachts owned by billionaires, but I am willing to stand at the top of the new bridge and, with hand-motions and shouting say: “Sorry, your sickeningly extravagant toy doesn’t fit under the bridge … you’ve got to go around …” This is where the hand-motions come in, indicating going back into Lake Ontario and re-entering through the Murray Canal.
As a parting shot, I would like to shout: “Sucks to be a billionaire, doesn’t it!? The rest of us can float through just fine! You know giant yachts are just a masculine compensation for …” and by then they would be out of earshot.

Another Kick at the Sign Bylaw
Although this is yet another example of bad legislation, I’m afraid that Beach Bum made a bad call in turning down Council’s offer to make an exemption.
Sadly, whether good or bad, bylaws are bylaws, and are enforceable. The fight to change it should happen after the fact or, as I like to do, before Rosemary’s Bylaw Baby is born.
I still suggest the so-called Heritage Bylaw should be restructured in order to allow the Heritage Committee to become an advisor to any business who wishes to make changes within the heritage district.
Comments I’ve received on this approach range from: “Sure, all we need is someone else in charge,” to “Without a bylaw to back them up, they have no teeth.”
But I contend that most business people in the County want to do the right thing. And they will respond favourably to the insight and advice they could receive. Way better than a County staff person reading and translating the letter of the law.
I deal in percentages in this case. We have laws that prohibit killing people, yet a small percentage of people will do it anyway. This applies to speeding, cell phone use, drunk driving … just about any law you can name.
The laws should be there, but adding more laws does not reduce the number of offenders. In many cases, it just moves ordinary law-abiding citizens into a realm in which they can break a dozen laws between their morning coffee and their bedtime.
And they don’t even know it.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. wevil says:

    good article Steve

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