Fiddlers On The Bay

In this election month I’m reminded of the old saying, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned”, the concern that arises when our government focuses on trivial matters while more important ones are neglected.

And, in the spirit of “all politics are local”, there is nothing more local than my recent encounter with a Provincial Park employee. It was just after 7 am and I was walking our black lab retriever through the forest trails near the Wasaga RecPlex and then out onto the beach, between Beach Areas 5 and 6. 

Alone with Scooby on leash, double espresso in my hand, empty beach, gorgeous morning, sunny with blue skies. Nothing better. And then I got “the whistle”.  I look back and a Park employee is waving me back onto Shore Lane, where his pickup truck is parked.  

I walk back, trying to think if I know of a good lawyer to call :), and he reminds me that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach. The typical encounter ensues, albeit a surprisingly pleasant one in the circumstances. He was a nice young man not on a power trip, just doing his job. I was calm and friendly as well, luckily the double espresso hadn’t fully kicked in yet.

I play the familiar wronged-citizen card, “I agree with you, but can’t we use some common sense, there’s no issue here, there’s hardly anyone around this time of the morning, my dog is friendly and on a leash. And by the way, I pay a lot of taxes.”

(Memo to self: Why did I say that last thing? Don’t ever use that “I pay a lot of taxes” phrase again. Don’t be that guy. Come on Teddy, be better than that!)

(Second memo to self: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Relax, have another espresso.)

He then played the standard authority figure response card, “Wait a minute, if I make an exception for you, do I need to make an exception for everyone?”  He then told me he’d been out since 5 am looking for dog walkers on the beach.

To paraphrase Oprah: “What?  He said WHAT?? He was searching for scoundrels like me since WHEN???”

For those of you not familiar with this part of the beach in the west end of Wasaga, it may be the safest, most law-abiding place … on the planet!  Especially in the early hours.  A few walkers and joggers, waving to each other and exchanging pleasantries. I’ve been on this stretch of beach my whole life and have never witnessed anything hostile or disturbing in the mornings, save for a few frustrated dogs, teased by the just-out-of-reach ducks and seagulls in the shallow water. 

During the fall, winter and spring months when the beach is not patrolled, dogs walk freely and frequently in the area, and somehow everyone seems to get along, without the need for any surveillance.

It’s akin to the OPP arresting jaywalkers on deserted Mosley and Hurontario Streets. Uh, there’s slightly more serious bad stuff going on.

I hate to bring up our tax dollars again, but they are a limited resource and should be treated as precious. Yes, dog walking on the beach and jaywalking on the streets are against provincial rules and subject to light fines, but when there’s no problem in quiet areas, please don’t waste our public money. We’ll call if we need you.

Let’s not have our public servants fiddle with trivialities while real fires are burning in the busier parts of our communities every summer, such as drownings, violence, thefts and impaired and reckless drivers.

Let’s change the patrol shift of the nice young man I encountered from a quiet part of the beach in the early morning, to busy commercial areas later in the day, where and when trouble is much more likely to occur. He’ll be much more useful to all of us there.

On September 20thVote No to Emperor Nero.

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