I have a love-hate relationship with our Town's By-Law Department.
For 12 years, I battled with them to curb the excessive smoke in my neighbourhood and town. When it comes to tourists, they adopt the approach that as visitors they are unaware of our laws, so we should give them multiple warnings before fining them. If you are hosting an out-of-control party or ignite a 30 foot tall fire, or litter the beach with beer bottles, or use your car as a make-shift sleeping accommodation, by-law will tap you on the shoulder and ask you to please stop that.But park your car once on your property with one wheel on Town property and they ticket you.
Maybe it's just easier to ticket a vacant car than to approach drunk teens who are roasting marshmallows over a toxic flaming couch.
There are times that I have been happy to see the by-law vehicle round the corner. Like a few years ago when we had a rental home a few doors away where a party was spiraling out of control. They didn't come alone that time as they were followed by the real police, but it was good to see them dealing with the problem. Most times, they just ignore loud parties until a neighbour calls to complain.
It's a system that makes for terrible neighbours.
Every summer I read letters in the local newspaper from irate residents who get fines for watering their lawn, or parking their cars. While I feel that residents should try to obey the laws as best they can, we don't have the benefit of the ignorance clause. But what if you really didn't know?
This May Long Weekend, I parked my car on my property, or so I thought I did. I just bought a nifty new VW Beetle and I decided that since it was the long weekend, I would put a sign on my old car and see if anyone would be interested in buying it. Apparently I broke some law, and I was ticketed.
Did you know you aren't supposed to put a for sale sign on your car? They didn't ticket me for that but they did say it was not allowed.
Actually, I broke 3 laws so I am told.
1.) One of my wheels was touching the pavement (town property). They consider this fully parking on their property even if 95% of your car is on your own property.
2.) My car was facing the wrong way. Again, I thought it was on my own property so I wasn't really concerned about which direction it was facing. It was on the grass. I did this trying to be a good neighbour because normally I park it across the street at my neighbour's house. It makes her place look "lived in" over the winter months - thus preventing break-in's, and it helps me since I have room for only one car on my tiny property. My neighbour was up for the weekend with relatives and I always scurry to get it out of her way when she arrives.
3.) The For Sale sign was clearly visible.
The town is littered with signs but put one on your car and it gets the attention of by-law.
For the second infraction I received a ticket. Then half an hour later, I got another one. (can they do that?)
I'm fighting mad!
At the time of both tickets, I was in my house and I would have gladly removed the car, and the signs if they had just asked me to. I know ignorance of the law isn't a real excuse but if they can afford an ignorance excuse to visitors, residents should be granted the same right.
When dealing with homeowners, everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt. And, everyone should be entitled to one warning on laws that aren't immediately obvious. I know not to park in a fire zone. I know not to change my oil in the SuperStore parking lot. I did not know that selling your car or having one wheel on town property would result in an expensive afternoon. 2 x $30 means a $60 mistake.
I hope you all had a better long weekend than I did.
And, if you are interested I have a 94 Chevy Lumina with only 99950 km's, 3.1 Litre/6 cyl engine for sale. They can't ticket the internet.
Darlene Watters is the author, editor and publisher of Day At The Beach. She also operates the wasaga.com web site. Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and do not represent the official positions of any organization or company who advertises on this website