For Sicamous’ bylaw enforcement officer, education is the name of the game.
John Moore has lived in Sicamous for nearly 34 years and has held many titles, but everything he does he attributes to a passion for helping and educating his community.
Moore retired from the Eagle Valley Rescue Society after 27 years, he said, and switched careers paths just before the pandemic began. He was running his own first aid safety company and when the pandemic shuttered business, he lost many of his contracts. That was when he inquired about the bylaw officer position with the district.
After a six-month trial, he and the district felt he was a good fit for the job and he’s been the full-time officer since the summer of 2020.
“I love being out and talking to people,” said Moore. “A lot of my careers were around education, either of crew members on site and teaching people how to do things properly and safely, making sure work rules were being followed, so this is just another fit.”
Moore prides himself on making sure people understand the regulations and bylaws in place and informing residents so they can make their own decisions and “be on the same page.”
At the July 26 committee of the whole meeting, while sharing a bylaw statistics update, district staff said most infractions seem to be coming from people doing something just out of the scope of what’s allowed without knowing or meaning to, and Moore agreed.
“That’s part of why the district and myself really press on the education portion of it, because there are so many people that don’t understand that what they’ve done is not permitted.
“Education is the best way for us to get the message across.”
The district has seen traffic and good neighbour bylaw tickets mostly so far this year, for a total of 151 valued at $15,500. The value of fines and fees collected so far totals $3,100, and 2022’s total was $27,733.50. Mayor Colleen Anderson commended Moore on a job well done at the meeting.
Bylaw enforcement sometimes begins with a ‘knock and talk’ house visit to discuss what Moore has noticed is out of line with a bylaw, he said, or a letter sent with contact information to the property owner. There are no penalties applied until a polite and informative conversation has been had, he emphasized.
What Moore has been most impressed with is the youth of Sicamous.
He’s mostly dealt with issues surrounding alcohol and narcotics use, safety and public cleanliness with the younger population, but he said he explains the bylaws to them and, for the most part, they understand the repercussions and change their ways or move along if he asks.
“They’re maybe not always compliant, but they do respect it and they’re really good about taking care of it. They’ve also started cleaning up other people’s issues, just to assist so that it makes them look better and of course it makes Sicamous look better.”
Sicamous has a different dynamic when it comes to what bylaw handles versus the RCMP, said Moore. He said most communities would have police respond first to an underage drinking call, but he has a good rapport with the local youth population and he’s able to have conversations with them that are working.
“It means our police resources can go to something of a more serious nature rather than dealing with a bunch of kids that are being loud and rambunctious,” he said. “I normally have a faster response time too, because the RCMP have such a larger patrol area.”
The most worrisome thing on Moore’s mind lately has been a shift he’s seen in society surrounding general public safety. For example, he now has to wear a bulletproof vest when he used to go out in a t-shirt.
“While I do appreciate the safety requirement, it does sometimes make people feel it’s a more intimidating presence. The police are there, black and white, to enforce the regulations. I’m there to help.”
Moore’s passion for helping his community in emergencies continues to thrive although he’s taken a less active approach on the front lines. He remains vocal about memorial crosses along the Bruhn Bridge staying intact during the infrastructure project, because the crosses denote tragedies that rescuers weren’t able to prevent, despite best efforts.
“Somebody vandalized one of the memorials we put up, and that was, to me, a very traumatic incident. I’m hoping that, when the new bridge goes in, the contractor will replaces the crosses, maintain them, just out of respect for the people that passed and made it necessary for us to get the replacement.”
He also stressed both the rescue society and the local fire departments always need volunteers. Information about both organizations can be found on the district website’s essential services tab.