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Pique n' Your Interest

Regulating the Wild West for fun and profit

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By Cindy Filipenko

This summer’s mini-building boom in Pemberton — restaurant renovations, decks and the like — has made me think this might just be a town of anarchists. Not that this is that surprising. People who hurtle themselves down mountains on two wheels, hang off aforementioned mountains on strings or choose to wake up at the crack of dawn to paddle a dragon boat are not your run-of-the-mill sheep. This is clearly a town of independent, adventuresome people; people who find such ideas as building permits and various code inspections to be, at best, quaint customs best suited to other locales.

I believe that no one among us should entertain squelching these free spirits. We have become a soft, wimpy, non-confrontational society and these people are essential reminders of our past glory. They deserve celebration rather derision. They are the original, quintessential Do-It-Yourselfers; they are the social cowboys and there is less and less of the Wild West for them to enjoy.

So what do we do to make sure that local government gets the money it needs to keep the water and sewer flowing in opposite directions, the streets clean and the coffers full enough for the occasional donation?

I propose getting rid of all civic regulations and imposing a single Wild West Licence. For a reasonable fee, a resident could buy a licence that would make them immune to permit fees and bylaw fines for a period of one year. You’re probably thinking that a licence would amount to essentially the same thing as permits and bylaw fines. I don’t think so. The licence would allow the holder to not only refuse to conform to municipal laws and standards it would also keep them from being hassled while going about their daily duties. I see it as a quid pro quo situation. The village gets to line its coffers and the licensed folks can do what they want. Of course, with this right, they will also assume ultimate responsibility for their actions.

People refusing to take part in the licensing scheme would be rounded up and impounded. Possibly a deal could be struck with WAG. With their processing fee per dog in excess of $1,000, it stands to reason that they could probably do an adequate job providing short-term incarceration for people. We could ensure that the incarceration would be short-term by having the renegade humans cohabitate with the renegade dogs.

Given the varying degree of rebellion people like to exercise, the licences would have to be graduated. Someone who wanted to add an additional 100 square feet to their desk would pay a lower fee than say someone who wanted to open a used car lot in their front yard. The terms of reference for the various types of licences would be built around a single criteria, the annoyance level others would experience in respect to the proposed activity. For example, someone intending to operate an all-night karaoke club in a residential neighbourhood would pay more than someone who chose to have their Cockapoo live off-leash and free-range. And, of course, anyone would be free to upgrade as needed.

How would the inevitable conflicts that such unregulated behaviour would surely create be resolved? Well, by the parties involved in the conflict, of course. The Wild West philosophy would obviously have to extend beyond mere bylaws into matters of civil law.

The obvious choice to ameliorate these transgressions? How about settling disputes by dueling at dawn with pearl-handled revolvers in Zurcher Park. Sure, it seems extreme, but in a place where extreme yoga is a possibility, this does not seem all that unreasonable. It would also ensure that people would take complaining against their neighbours seriously.

Not only would this remove the need for increased policing and court activity, by bringing in dueling, the local rifle range would undoubtedly do a booming business with those feeling the need to sharpen their shooting skills. The local sporting goods store would probably earn a buck or two as well.

Given the popularity of such questionable home video fare as the Bum Fight series and televised WWE events, there could also be a lucrative tourism spin-off. Heck, if the Victorians thought nothing of packing a picnic and making a hanging into a family outing, why couldn’t the Pemberton Dawn Duels be a similar draw? I can see the ad in the Georgia Straight: “Come up and enjoy an authentic Wild West duel against the backdrop of majestic Mt. Currie.”

This proposal may not be perfect, but at least the village would get a few bucks and life would probably go on pretty much as it is — the occasional duel not withstanding. Got a better idea?

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