The decision by Saanich council to force the closing of a small street-side jam stand recalls the old saying: “Laws are written for the guidance of the wise, and the blind obedience of fools.”
Katherine Little sold homemade jams and salsa by the roadside on Queensbury Avenue. She grew her own produce, followed food safety guidelines, and made next to nothing from her efforts. She described her project as a personal effort to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder after suffering injuries in the line of duty as a law-enforcement officer.
Notwithstanding all that, and despite a petition by more than 700 local residents who support her, she has been ordered to shut down.
The justifications given by Saanich councillors depict a local government mired in bureaucracy.
Acting Mayor Colin Plant said council didn’t have any viable option that would have allowed Little to continue operating: “There was nothing that could have been done last night short of direction from council to not enforce the bylaw,” Plant said, referring to the decision at a Monday council meeting.
And that would have brought civic life to a halt? Of course, there is a need for consistency in the enforcement of bylaws.
But there is also a reasonable expectation that councillors can get their heads out of the paperwork and see the big picture. And the big picture here is that a harmless, indeed thoroughly admirable small endeavour has fallen prey to sheer mutton-headed decision-making.
Hopefully, the outrage already growing will force a return to sanity.