EDITORIAL: Blonde lawns

Officials urging residents to get serious about water conservation

Some people are blissfully unaware of the important issues facing their communities.

Some people just don’t care.

Parksville Coun. Sue Powell was working in her garden last weekend when she noticed what her neighbour was doing.

“I witnessed someone power washing their driveway for three hours,” Powell said Monday night.

Water is scarce on Vancouver Island, as odd as that sounds. The snowpack is minimal, we’ve had a hot and dry year and Parksville is at Stage 3 for water restrictions.

These water restrictions can be complicated and they change as you cross boundary after boundary in this over-governed region. Suffice to say power washing a driveway is verboten at Stage 3.

It was a Saturday when Powell witnessed what is a clear violation of water restrictions. The city’s bylaw officer doesn’t work Saturdays. Even with a bylaw officer on the job, enforcement is predicated on complaints and we’ve been led to believe the pile of files is high on the bylaw enforcement officer’s desk.

Would the officer even get to the site of the power washing, or any other alleged offence? If he/she did attend, would there be a warning first before a fine? Do the bylaws in relation to water restrictions have any teeth?

“I think we need to start trying to enforce what we have,” said Powell.

Mayor Marc Lefebvre jumped into the conversation. His target was green lawns.

“Lawns don’t exist in nature,” said the mayor. “They are an invention of man. If there ever was a summer when lawns should go blonde it’s this summer.”

Ah, blonde is the new green.

“We are in a tough position, we need people to co-operate,” said the city’s director of engineering, Vaughn Figueira. “We really need to take this seriously.”

Yes, people have rights. People who pay their taxes and water bills have rights. Like all rights, people are free to exercise them as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of others. Power washing your driveway and keeping your lawn that familiar shade of green may contribute to a re-evaluation of water restrictions.

Call your city or town or regional district office. Read the stories we are presenting in the paper (pages 3 and 6 in Tuesday’s paper, and online at www.pqbnews.com). Be educated, be responsible, when it comes to the use of water. It’s the neighbourly thing to do.

— Editorial by John Harding

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