ROTHENBURGER – When is one more bylaw one bylaw too many?

Was a time when bylaws were enforced to change behaviour. Now, it seems, they’re for informational purposes

THERE USED TO BE a bylaw in Vancouver that prohibited selling stoves on Wednesdays. An old bylaw in Kelowna made it illegal to sunbathe in the nude in Okanagan Lake between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

In Esquimalt, throwing snowballs within city limits was against the law.

I also recall there used to be a bylaw in Kamloops that restricted when you could ride your horse down Victoria Street. Maybe I don’t have the details on that quite right, but I do know it’s no longer in force.

Bylaws come and go. When we think we need them, we legislate them and enforce them. When their usefulness is passed, we rescind them.

They’re a practical way of changing behavior or, at least, punishing behavior we don’t like within our towns and cities.

There are more bylaws than bylaws officers can enforce. That’s why many are “complaints driven.” In other words, bylaws folks and police don’t hustle around looking for infractions — they wait for somebody to complain.

This new anti-idling bylaw is different.

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Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former school board chair, former editor of The Kamloops Daily News, and a current director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He was awarded the Jack Webster Foundation’s lifetime achievement award in 2011. His editorials are published Monday through Thursdays, and Saturdays on CFJC Today, CFJC Midday and CFJC Evening News. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6996 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on ROTHENBURGER – When is one more bylaw one bylaw too many?

  1. Actually, as society is unequivocally sliding more and more into “I don’t give a rat’s ass about anybody else but myself” type of attitude Bylaws should be about enforcing compliance in “civil and communal” behaviour. It is certainly unfortunate that we have gotten to this point on the evolutionary scale but because the “carrot” approach as proven itself a failure then a more strong handed approach is surely needed.

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