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POULSEN: The Okanagan: Rules, rules and more rules

Image Credit: Chuck Poulsen
April 07, 2016 - 10:46 AM

Two dog bylaw officers were at my door Monday.

I was in trouble.

Presumably so much trouble that it required two officers, possibly expecting me or my dog to bite.

They politely explained they had a complaint that I was walking my dog on a West Kelowna sports field without a leash.

Leashes are for control. My dog comes when I call her so I always figured that's control.

But rules are rules, aren't they though?

As I learned from the officers, it's against the law to walk a dog on a sports field with or without a leash, but let me back up to the day of the crime.

The sports field behind the school is almost always empty. Seldom is there a kid doing anything there that resembles exercise, which may be another story in itself.

It's a huge sports field doing nothing most of the time.

On this day, there was a woman with a very large dog on a leash.

She started shouting at me to put my dog on a leash. She kept up the  demands at length.

As with all apparently deranged people, I thought it best not to engage.

As I was walking away to the off-leash park at the end of the field, plastic poop bag ever at the ready, the woman threatened:

"If you don't put that dog on a leash, I'll take mine off and it will attack your dog!!!" (Multiple exclamation points are needed here to indicate hysteria).

That's when I did engage, non violently, of course.

Thinking of Donald Trump when disrupters are led away from his rallies, I wiggled my finders in a wave and shouted: "Bye, bye."

The woman took down my licence plate number and the investigation began.

I confessed the misdeed to the officers, who then explained the zero tolerance - dogs-are-banned - policy on sports fields.

Said me: "But she had her dog on the field even if the dog was on a leash."
Said the officer: "Yes, our next stop is to talk to her about that."
Said me: "Wow, she actually caught herself. That's great."

Being a senior, I don't have enough time left in life to get into the myriad of laws against dogs but here's my overview:

The Okanagan just doesn't like dogs.

Here's just one example, but I think it's telling.

Try to find a motel around here that will take dogs. Good luck.

Drive through the U.S. and you don't even have to plan ahead for dog-friendly motels. Almost all of them will take a dog and if you run into one that doesn't, they'll point you down the street to another one that will.

Americans like dogs. The Okanagan doesn't.

But the uptightness goes deeper than dogs.

The Central Okanagan is hooked like crack on bylaw rules.

The latest was Kelowna council's rejection of an LED illuminated sign proposed for the Capri Centre Mall, which would have remained the same size as the existing one.

The LED sign might make that irreversible Highway 97 living monument to strip malls at least a bit less dull and boring.

So why not?

(If any councillor in the Central Okanagan has ever tried to persuade the Westbank First Nation to demolish the really hideous blight of signage on Bridge Hill, I haven't heard. Maybe it's politically incorrect to criticize the WFN, and most of our politicians practice PC like evangelists).

I envision daily meetings in the offices of the regional district and Kelowna city hall.

Always the first item for discussion: How many new rules can we make today? How can we find new ways to control people's behaviour; every move they make, every breath they take.

Our civic leaders might market this area to the anal retentive social engineers of the world as:

Welcome to The Okanagan -  Busybody Capital of Canada.

— Chuck Poulsen can be reached at

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