Party’s over – bylaw enforcement is back

Party’s over – bylaw enforcement is back


Dan Walton
Oliver Chronicle

Enjoying open liquor at Lion’s Park? Biking on the sidewalk? Picking up children from school on the wrong side of the road?

Not on Emerald Lutz’s watch.

This is her fifth summer educating bylaw flouters in Oliver and Osoyoos.

Asked jokingly if she ever goes home and drinks the beer that she steals, she responded with an emphatic “No.”

If somebody is caught drinking in public, Lutz has them pour out their own alcohol.

“People will use dirty socks, underwear and different places to hide their booze so I don’t necessarily want to be touching their cans.”

Lutz said she hasn’t lost any friends by doing her job, however, her friends know that she doesn’t cut slack for anybody.

“I try to be as black and white, straight to the rules as I can,” she said. “Sometimes people on drugs are already upset about something and you can’t really reason with them. I wish they could have a better understanding of why we’re here and what we’re doing. It’s a little frustrating. Wish people knew we’re here to make it a safer, nicer place for everyone – we’re not trying to be the fun police.”

When asked if the names of known troublemakers are on any sort of blacklist, ”You think we have like an actual, written list?” she clarified. “No, not that I’m aware of.”

Although, Lutz has observed dirt bikers on the KVR trail who wouldn’t stop, so she would take photos and video to make a record of the incident.

“It’s not just teens out on a rip,” she said, but rather thieves casing out properties and people who lost their driver’s licences.

She also clears the KVR trail of campers, who are most commonly found along the path south of the splash park.

Each summer she quickly sees the effect that her efforts are making. At the beginning of the season, she might find upwards of 20 people with open liquor at Lion’s Park. But after consistently making her rounds, “I’ll come back and see the same size group with only one person drinking.”

Sometimes when Lutz arrives at Lion’s Park, she notices people scrambling to their cars.

“Definitely not a boring job,” she said.

Beyond transients with their open liquor, another issue at Lion’s Park is dog owners who leave their pets unattended at the off-leash park – but Lutz isn’t standing for it.

Dog owners also cause issues when their pets are left unattended in vehicles on hot days, which requires a call to one of the local tow truck companies.

“I’ve never had an animal die or be super harmed.”

On another occasion, there was a senior citizen who was locked in a hot car, and Lutz was able to help guide her out.

When it comes to disputes and complaints between neighbours, Lutz said there is about one complaint per day on average. And those issues are handled confidentially.

“Some people think we don’t do a lot. But we can’t make everything public; there’s privacy laws.”

She said most complaints are legitimate, only the odd one is petty.