“Do as I say — not as I do”

John Devitt

When it comes to parental advice and unflinching directives, nothing is worse than this one.  The autocratic, holier-than-thou attitude implying somehow that a parent is supra human, above things like accountability, human mistakes and such.  Relationships like this are often conditioned at a young age and maintained throughout life, manifesting in all sorts of ways.  We see it all around us on a daily basis; in professional relationships, workplace hierarchies and most profoundly in government systems.

As residents of Revelstoke, we are met at all turns with bylaws and regulations implemented by our municipal government.  Surely the intentions of these restrictions are for our protection, but ultimately they only serve to curb our enthusiasm about living in this beautiful place.  Almost daily, it seems, we are presented with more things that we cannot do: Don’t walk your dog off leash in the Downie Marsh; don’t be creative in designing your business sign; don’t try to open a wine bar in downtown Revelstoke.  But it appears these restrictions only apply to the masses, and not to those making the rules themselves.

The irony in the City of Revelstoke spray painting signs on nearly every street corner in the downtown core is absolutely hilarious.  As the City strives to create tough new legislation that will require business owners to clear graffiti off their walls, they in turn spray paint what could be construed as graffiti all over city sidewalks.  As the City forces business owners to follow costly design processes in order to meet nebulous Enhancement Committee beautification standards for signage and building exteriors, the City itself bypasses all public consultation and paints eyesores all over downtown.

Perhaps after painting the bike lane signage on City streets, over-zealous employees started looking for a way to play with the paint compressor again and use up all that extra white paint?  As many residents have already asked; Aren’t there better ways to use our tax dollars?  For instance, fixing the 4th Street and Victoria Road intersection?  While our community patiently waits for the transportation study process to be completed to finally enact real progressive improvements to our transportation network, we ask ourselves which study it was that indicated we needed giant, white spray-painted tags on each and every street corner to remind us that we shouldn’t ride our bicycles on the sidewalk.  Instead of spending money to fix problems we all know exist, and which have been studied ad nauseum, we see resources being wasted to fix problems that don’t truly exist.

A friend, who recently visited Revelstoke for the first time, was amazed with how young and progressive the demographics seemed.  Her comment rang true in that this youthfulness serves to create new or rejuvenate existing values.  The analogy of municipal government as the disapproving parent figure becomes evermore apparent when viewed in this regard.  The censorial parent will continue to create reactionary policies for problems that don’t exist to maintain the status quo.  These reactionary policies are created out of fear of new things.

As the graffiti/bike lane/signage/enhancement issues continue to be brought forth, we will see more and more rebellion against unjust policies.  It might be skateboarders grinding the curb in front of City Hall on a Sunday morning when the streets are dead, kids on BMX bikes blatantly riding past the City workers spray painting our public streets without approval, or chalk drawings to beautify their ugly stains on the sidewalk.  Regardless, history shows us that when leaders are out of touch with those they purport to represent, more resistance will follow.