The application of the ill-considered nuisance by-law recently considered by Council and referred back to committee would have had the effect of creating a municipality with restrictions and requirements around public activities that would have been the civil liberties version of the game Twister. Convoluted, indeed.
I was even able to find something to help make the point (left).
During Council’s consideration of the We Need It But We Won’t Use Most Of It Nuisance By-law, the F-word — “facism” — was used on two occasions, once by a delegate, once by a councillor.
Notwithstanding comments from councillors regarding the need for a response to nuisance parties in the city and especially to provide additional measures for by-law enforcement of parties run-amok in Wards 5 and 6, and all of the mention of courage for speaking to this need, it just doesn’t square with some of the provisions of the by-law as presented to Council.
Less does it square with aspects of the by-law as it was first crafted by staff.
But good can come from an experience such as this, though it would be reckless to suggest that good is ever inevitable. It allowed for push-back from the community and it allowed council to distinguish itself from staff, which is healthy for local government. And in the public’s rejection of particularly problematic and embarrassing aspects of the by-law, the community was also pushed into considering its notions of Guelph — confirming that if it needed a workable approach to dealing with nuisance parties, it also valued freedom, not Big Brother micromanagement.
Which of course, deserves further reflection by all involved, least of all by staff.
Update: Be sure to catch the column by the Guelph Mercury’s Scott Tracey regarding council’s reaction to the proposed by-law.