Complaint based bylaw enforcement a cop out

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The recently-released coroner’s report on the collision that killed Margaret Johnson this past February describes the incident as an accident, which it no doubt was, as neither party wanted it to happen. (Editor’s note: Johnson died from a collision with a pickup truck that took place after she drove her wheelchair onto Second Avenue to get around a stretch of sidewalk that hadn’t been cleared of snow). It certainly was not the best decision to travel on the roadway which was clear of ice and snow.

In Whitehorse, like most other municipalities, there is a law which requires that ice and snow be cleared from sidewalks in front of both homes and businesses. There is an enforcement agency — Bylaw Services — which in the real world would be enforcing bylaws on a proactive basis. In Whitehorse, bylaw enforcement takes place only in response to complaints.

I suggest that is a total cop-out by the mayor, council and the people in charge of the bylaw office. Margaret Johnson would likely still be alive today if the city and its staff were doing their jobs.

Bylaw enforcement did not always work on a complaint basis and it really stinks that this is how it works now. Doing enforcement this way avoids the real issue, which is that people are truly apprehensive of going on the record as a complainant because of the potential for retribution against them.

Mayor, council and senior bylaw staff should be ashamed of themselves.

Larry Leigh Whitehorse

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