When it comes to city business bylaws, father knows best

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
January 16, 2018 - 5:00am Updated: January 16, 2018 - 6:47am

KAMLOOPS — Have you ever wondered if our local government is stuck in the late 1950s sitcom world of Father Knows Best? A world more familiar to their parents and grandparents and a make believe world where city hall would certainly feel comfortable imposing morality bylaws such as the recent cannabis business licensing affair.

It is as though team city hall lives in a privileged and cocooned world that refuses to acknowledge, let alone accept, a changing world. It is also a team that will now try frightening landlords into complying with the will of the city. Obedience is demanded and to disobey will come with a $10,000-a-day fine.

We went through much of the same bad judgment and public disconnect when Save- On Foods asked for permission to sell wine. For some, that meant the world was coming to an end and I can recall a city councillor or two predicting sudden and huge increases in drinking and drunkenness. Availability of premium wines in a grocery store was a formula certain to result in increased consumption, underage drinking and the rapid decline of law and order in Kamloops.

Since then, I haven’t seen large numbers of those who can afford to drink VQA wines sitting on the curbside of downtown streets, tipping back bottles of their favourite fine wines, while asking passersby for a spare $40. As a result, I think it is safe to say that concerns for Kamloops turning into a Sodom and Gomorrah were just a bit misplaced.

With a few eye rolls and head shaking, the people of Kamloops moved on. Perhaps some were amused with the morality police antics coming from First and Victoria but for the most part, the silliness and dire worries were seen as just that: silliness.

Over my life, I’ve been in a liquor store or two, even specialty wine stores, so I feel slightly qualified to suggest they are managed well and serve a market wanting to purchase their products. On the other hand, I hadn’t been to one of these supposed dark, mysterious and sinful reefer joints and therefore I could be considered unqualified to comment.

So in the spirit of journalistic research and personal curiosity, I made an effort to gain a more direct perspective. And for you who have never sinned or felt tempted by the evil weed, you will be disappointed to hear it was pretty much identical to visiting a liquor store to pick up that weekend bottle of wine. Bright, safe and clean, with knowledgeable staff willing to take the time to educate customers and, like specialty wine stores, sell a product.

There’s little difference between sipping your martini at home or enjoying a cannabis product. So why, I ask, does city hall persist in this mistaken belief that morality and good conduct and character are theirs to both define and regulate?

Snow removal complaints soon to be followed by potholes then sidewalks, swimming pools, summer construction delays and barking dogs are the domain of city governments. Telling me where, when and what I can or cannot purchase based on your moral values is not your job.