At its May 14 meeting, council all but killed Rocky View County's (RVC) firearms bylaw. The motion to rescind the bylaw was held at third reading – a delay intended to provide time for sober second thoughts. We can only hope a few of our councillors actually do some thinking on this issue between now and May 28.
RVC’s current firearms bylaw was introduced just under a year ago in response to requests from residents to strengthen rules in residential areas. Council had good intentions when it approved the bylaw in May 2018; however, everyone acknowledged it has flaws. Many of those flaws are because some councillors did not adequately review the no-shooting zone maps.
The bylaw attempted to recognize that “one size fits all” doesn’t work in a municipality as diverse as RVC. If the bylaw’s lines are “wrong” in terms of the divide between rural and non-rural areas, fix them – don’t throw out the rules for everyone.
In February, council committed to engage with residents before bringing forward amendments. Those consultations have not occurred. Yet, the council majority, in its wisdom, decided there is no need to give residents the promised opportunity to voice their opinions. What happened? A few vocal residents complained to a few councillors. What about the residents who were patiently waiting for the promised consultations? Don’t they matter? It seems not.
This move demonstrates, yet again, the disregard for process shared by the current majority. Why should residents believe anything they say? They clearly place little value on their commitments to citizens.
Representative democracy relies on long-established rules and procedures that exist so elected officials can represent the interests of the entire community – not just a select few. When the majority on council flaunts those practices to rush through decisions with no notice, they seriously weaken our democracy.
It is ironic they chose to run roughshod over residents on the firearms bylaw on the same day council approved its Strategic Plan. A key component of that plan is to “lead with integrity.” It is too bad that one of the first times councillors could have demonstrated a commitment to this important value, they failed miserably.
Rocky View Forward