EDITORIAL – If only making people behave was just a bylaw away

(Image: Mel Rothenburger file photo)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

TRYING TO CONTROL public behaviour is one of the most challenging jobs faced by cities but they keep trying. Some have tried out regulations on everything from spitting on sidewalks to cussing in public, with varied success.

A few years ago I wrote about the Alberta town of Tabor, which passed a bylaw prohibiting both, and added a curfew for kids for good measure.

Various communities have similar laws, even outlawing shouting. And, of course, there’s always loitering and the taboo of defecating or urinating in public. In Calgary, it’s an offence to put your feet up on a public bench or planter.

Perhaps taking a page from our Alberta neighbours’ book, Penticton is looking at a new bylaw aimed at discouraging bad behaviour. It will attempt to “establish clear public behaviour expectations,” according to a news release.

“The bylaw covers everything from soliciting at ATMs and drive-thrus to public nudity, public urination and taking over public places such that they can’t be used as intended.”

An exception is drug use under the new provincial law. According to the news release “we want to make sure everyone feels save and welcome in public places.”

The council is expected to give the new bylaw first reading at its meeting today and then put it out for public discussion.

Kamloops has its own set of behaviour-altering bylaws dealing with stuff like litter, graffiti and panhandling.

We in the Tournament Capital wish the Peach City well in its attempts to regulate human behaviour — maybe there will be some lessons on how we can do better on that score.

How fine it would be if we could do away with loitering and peeing in public, or putting feet up on planters. And, more seriously, keeping our streets free of the truly obnoxious behaviour that makes them less pleasant places to be.

Alas, if only making people behave themselves were as simple as writing more bylaws.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 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.

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