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Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Westwind Weekly

Spittin,’ cussin,’ stayin’ out late and operatin’ a family-fun haunted house has been almost outlawed in sweeping new bylaws and with some old fashioned uncompromisin’ by town and village folk.
Small municipalities are often the butt of many jokes and right now two southern Alberta “small town” municipalities can claim the biggest butts of the jokes.
Taber and Stirling, come on down, you’re the next contestants on the Bylaw Might Be Wrong.
Taber’s new bylaw to help curb what town council considers un-moral behaviour such as cursing and yelling and any other town-decided violation in the new Community Standards Bylaw needs to be re-examined. Not because of what it tries to eliminate within the town but why and what underlying issues could be behind the new changes.
The bylaw, the town’s website states, “is intended to consolidate existing municipal regulations and allow enforcement under a municipal bylaw rather than the Criminal Code.” It is also stated, this bylaw, “is to address community issues impacting quality of life in the community.” Instead of making arrests or laying charges, police and bylaw officials can introduce fines.
Sure, the Town of Taber could have a few bad apples or hooligans (just like any other small municipality or big city) but why should town council somewhat segregate those who just want to meet up at the park for some harmless hacky sack or let the expletives fly in an adults-only local watering hole? Even the odd municipal councillor lets out a gosh darn or sometimes worse at council meetings and abroad.
Many youth are targeted with this new bylaw in Taber and yes, many parents have to cover their kids’ ears from time to time from the inappropriate outbursts by some youth in public places but isn’t that the responsibility of the parent? To teach right from wrong?
As for a curfew or the outlawing of spitting, yelling, and restrictions on public assembly — Why should the misbehavings of some, limit the freedoms for those who abide by the laws?
Won’t that put a damper on all those cowboys and farmers who chew tobacco and spit on municipal sidewalks and the like? Won’t that put a damper on pro-life or pro-choice rallies or the Community Cross Walk each Easter in Taber and other communities?
In Stirling, village council has made it difficult on one of its only claims to fame — the Stirling Haunted Mansion and Railway Park. Now, Stirling can be remembered as the town that time forgot or the town that still lives in the dark ages.
The village handed a stop order to the park in January. In a recent story in the Lethbridge Herald the village’s mayor stated the stop order, “pertains to a long-standing issue associated with non-residential uses on the property.”
It was a little bit of back and forth between the village and the park’s owners Richard and Glory Reimer. They stated in the Herald story, “they did in fact have a business licence and the village had a lack of adequate record keeping.” The village’s CAO disagreed, it was stated in the story and a complaint was issued from a neighbour, which sparked, “the process to get the business permitted under the Land-Use Bylaw.” The Reimers stated the business was operating for 15 years and grandfathering should apply.
Municipalities often reap the benefits of a tourist attraction such as the Stirling Haunted Mansion and Railway Park — bringing in a vast array of tourists. Couldn’t negotiations be held to alleviate the issue, so both parties could come up with a compromise?
The Village of Stirling should try to accommodate its business sector to move forward. That doesn’t mean businesses can run the municipality or run afoul of bylaws and such but compromises could be made.
Youth, will always get a bad rap in any community. Maybe, towns or villages should examine the problem and actually rectify it, rather than place a bandage on it. Boredom no doubt plays a role. Having nothing to do in a small community makes it hard for the youth to keep busy. Perhaps, councils should think outside of the box and remember when they were the “youth” and figure out a game plan instead of handing out fines.
So, this is indeed a wake up call to other small towns. Learn from past mistakes. It is 2015 — be cognizant of the municipality’s actions — for those actions may leave a lasting legacy and one a municipality may find hard to shake for decades to come.
All small towns have their problems. Perhaps, this little ditty of a media frenzy will be a wake up call to work on addressing bigger issues in a small community. Remember, don’t stop believing

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