FRIDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Public hearings are a unique element of our civic democracy that truly give voice to the often diverse opinions of the community.
They’re designed to let anyone to speak who wishes, as many times as he or she wishes, as long as everyone has equal opportunity. Some public hearings in Kamloops have gone on for days.
Tuesday night, people were invited to talk about bees. It wasn’t one of the larger turnouts — for some issues, people have showed up in the hundreds — but the 20 people who were there clearly felt strongly about the issue.
Instead of the rancor that often marks debate, this was a virtual love-in for bees. Everybody in the room, save for one gentleman who wondered about whether urban bees might attract bears, thought backyard hives to be a fine idea. The proposal to relax the City’s animal control bylaw to accommodate the bees sailed through not simply unopposed, but heartily supported.
This speaks well of our system. All too often, City council seems to be in the business of heaping more regulations on a reluctant public.
Bylaws will do that — they’re intended to control behaviour. Back yards are particularly vulnerable to the long arm of municipal law. You may not have loud parties there. You may not keep chickens there. You may not have a tree with branches hanging over the fence into your neighbour’s space. You may not keep a barking dog there. You may not roast weenies on an open fire during BBQ season.
In this case, however, a bylaw was extensively re-written and several more pages added to it not to put more restrictions on us, but to take some restrictions off.
People who live in single- and two-family dwellings in Kamloops can now have bees and produce their own honey just outside their back door if they want.
As we said awhile back, it would now be only fair to reconsider backyard chickens, but let’s not press that one for the moment. Let’s just reflect happily upon the fact that, for a change, a law was made that actually relaxes some of government’s control over what people do in their own back yards.