I went for a lightning visit to my hometown (in that it is the town that I have spent the most time in my life in, not the town that I was born in, or the town that I lived in exclusively until I was an adult and could choose for myself) last week to celebrate mi madre’s retirement and was reminded of the holier-than-thou, self-righteous, bylawed until you can’t do anything attitude. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have enough friends and family there to make it tempting to haul our asses back across the country, except for the fact that the town makes me miserable.
Here are a few examples of what I mean:
A) You know when you jay walk, and you time your route perfectly taking into account the oncoming cars? Well, you can’t do that in Victoria, because even though it is obvious that you have seen them, they will stop for anything. In fact, if you want to take over the city and cause a big ruckous, just stand in the middle of the street. Everything would come to a halt while the drivers wait patiently for you to make up your mind and move. I know this is a little thing, but it is very indicative of the almost pathological need to be safe.
B) Draconian pub laws. Although there is no smoking in pubs anymore, you are not allowed to sit on the patio with your kids on a summer evening and enjoy a pint . It is just not civilised.
C) Now, I know this one will be controversial, but it still pisses me off. The bike helmet law. You can get stopped by the police if you are not wearing a helmet. This wonderful bylaw was the nail in the coffin for the blue bike program, a program which recycled old bikes, painted them blue and left them on the streets for anyone to use when they needed them. It was awesome. Needed to get somewhere in a hurry and didn’t have change for the bus? Take a blue bike! Of course, this all came to a grinding halt when you were no longer able to just hop on and ride. You could take the precaution of carrying your helmet with you wherever you go, or you could just wear it all the time. I am waiting for the bylaw on the need for pedestrians to wear a helmet at all times or incur a fine.
D) People who shout from their SUVs, “Where’s your helmet?” Seriously people, this happens all too often. Where’s your sense of shame for owning such a gas guzzling vehicle you self-righteous hypocrite? (that was me yelling back)
E) The war on homeless people. Now, I know that this is not exclusive to this city, but they do seem to take it to new sadistic heights. For example, there is a bylaw stating that you cannot sit on the sidewalk, making it impossible for homeless people to panhandle (in fact, I think they bylawed out panhandling too). The newest, let’s kick’em when they’re down law is that the police can confiscate homeless peoples possessions if they are “littering the sidewalk.” If this does happen, said transient simply has to go the police station and pay a heavy fine. Only then will s/he be able to retrieve their belongings.
E) Dog owners. Crazy wherever you go, the ones in this city take their dog ownership to new heights of crazy. Many of the most intense debates in this city occur between dog owners and non dog owners. Over poop on the sidewalk, or no leash zones. Just for an example, one of the neighbours near my in-laws’ place took up a passionate petition to turn the local park (adjacent to his house) into a dog park stating that “no kids live here anyway.” That is except for the few hundred kids that attend the local school a block away….
Now if I could get all my family and friends to move to Montreal, I would have a perfect life. But alas…