Bylaw enforcement officer Marcel Bedard sits behind the wheel of his 2004 Chevy Cavalier in 2017. He retired on April 9, 2021 after 24 years working for the City of Salmon Arm. (File photo)

Bylaw enforcement officer Marcel Bedard sits behind the wheel of his 2004 Chevy Cavalier in 2017. He retired on April 9, 2021 after 24 years working for the City of Salmon Arm. (File photo)

Salmon Arm bylaw officer parks his parking tickets after 24 years

Despite the insults that go with the job, Marcel Bedard enjoyed his work for the city

Marcel Bedard may have received more insults than he cares to remember, but he is not a bitter man.

He likes people.

His secret?

As the City of Salmon Arm’s bylaw enforcement officer for the past 24 years, Bedard is clear that while some people despised the job he did, they didn’t despise him.

When he was at Askew’s in his uniform or at a hockey game, people were friendly and would come up and chat, often asking a question about city workings.

Some residents knew his background; when Bedard was not handing out parking tickets or enforcing a dog bylaw, he was likely cooking up a four-course meal using his skills as a red-seal chef.

In-person insults were fairly infrequent, he said, with people more apt to do a drive-by dissing.

“They’ll open the windows and yell obscenities or ‘get a real job.’”

He said insults are not uncommon for anyone who works in government.

Bedard has heard so many, he’s become something of a connoisseur. He recounted how he would react to hearing a new dig.

“I just kind of chuckled. ‘I haven’t heard that one before – that’s good.’”

Bedard’s first official day of retirement was Monday, April 12.

Throughout his 24 years on the job, he’s been putting the notes he’s received and various clippings into a scrapbook.

It’s a lively compilation, with more complaints than compliments – about 80 to one, he jokes.

One note includes the life-sized tracing of a hand, with the middle finger extended.

“I’ve always joked I’m going to write a book about bylaw enforcement. ‘The names have been changed to protect the stupid,’” he quipped.

He pointed to a card special to him. The couple who sent it thanked him warmly, despite having had to take down their fence.

When he trained summer students, he would often give them the scrapbook to look at beforehand so they could get an idea of the job.

Sometimes Bedard found himself agreeing with a complainant about rules that seemed silly.

He pointed to one bylaw he thinks is still on the books. If a milking cow gets loose in Salmon Arm, he could catch it, but he would have to milk it three times a day and then he could keep the milk.

“I kept waiting for a dairy cow to break loose,” he smiled.

About 30 years ago Bedard was working as a chef in Whistler but gave it up when he started a family. The hours were too brutal. He decided to try out a job there as a bylaw officer, later moving to Merritt to do the same work.

He laughs about his interview in Salmon Arm 24 years ago. On the drive in, he hit a bump and spilled coffee down the front of the one shirt he had with him. Ten minutes later he bit into an apple and chipped his front tooth, so he couldn’t speak without a lisp. To his surprise, he still got the job.

Read more: COVID-19 adds a a little sunshine to the adventures of a Salmon Arm couple

Read more: Parking in downtown Salmon Arm moving to two hours except for one street

Bedard said he always looked forward each morning to his work in Salmon Arm.

Along with the everyday task of parking enforcement, a lot of other duties have fallen under his wing. Such as the annual migration of baby mallards from city hall to the lake. Ducks began laying their eggs in the plants and hedges at city hall. At least five times when they hatched, Bedard carried a butterfly net full of ducklings to the lake while the mama duck either waddled behind or flew overhead.

“That was always a fun thing.”

He’s been tasked with getting a moose moving up a street, removing marmots from people’s cars, and helping rescue turtles out of a water main at McGuire Lake.

He remembers one day when people were at the foreshore loading turtles into the back of a truck. He told them there was a $100 fine per turtle. Although that may or may not have been true, it worked and the turtles were saved.

He recalled one disgruntled citizen who left a bag filled with 3,500 pennies to pay for a parking ticket. Bedard points out that the fine was actually only $10 because it was paid within two days and, secondly, he wasn’t the person who received or counted the payments.

Similar payment oddities have happened a few times. He said the women at city hall’s front counter don’t get paid enough some days.

His job involved any bylaw-related complaints, ranging from noise issues to unsightly premises. Asked what is defined as unsightly, he said it’s left to his discretion.

“If it’s worse than my carport, it’s unsightly,” he chuckled.

Complaints about unsightly places have ranged from people storing piles of garbage, to those citizens who are hoarders.

“I’ve had people call for my opinion about family matters,” he said of his job’s variety. He’s told them he can give his opinion, but it won’t be a professional one.

Bedard expressed appreciation for his management team, which has always been “200 per cent” supportive of him.

“They know the kind of stuff that happens to me. They’re quite understanding.”

Carl Bannister, the city’s chief administrative officer, returned the compliment. “The bylaw enforcement position can be tough, dealing with conflict and negativity. Marcel has done it with class and he will be sorely missed by all.”

Read more: New wheels for bylaw officer

Read more: Salmon Arm mayor supports parking solution for hungry truckers

Bedard said the key to his position is listening. “You have to let them express themselves, good or bad…They’ll say the same thing three or four times.”

He said there’s always a solution to a problem; he’ll sometimes ask what the person in question sees as the solution.

Bedard urges the public to be patient this year and support downtown businesses, as roads will be busy with the highway four-laning, the traffic light relocation on the downtown corridor and the Ross Street underpass.

Asked what he’d like to see change about Salmon Arm, he said all the business staff who park outside their business. He noted that vehicles on Alexander, for instance, can change about four times an hour. Even though parking is for two hours, if someone parks a long time, it means someone’s business could miss a customer.

The city is hiring two bylaw officers this year to fill Bedard’s shoes.

What will he be doing?

His future will involve a lot of camping and maybe a little gold panning.

He has a long-term RV spot in the Shuswap, plus a truck and camper and tent, as well as an RV he and his spouse will be parking on Vancouver Island.

He said the camper will allow them to pull off to the side of the road instead of finding a campsite, if need be.

“I know where not to park. I know all the excuses… I know where to hide,” he laughs.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BylawsMunicipal GovernmentparkingSalmon Arm

Just Posted

A grant from the Okanagan Basin Water Board has allowed the historic O’Keefe Ranch in Spallumcheen to construct and complete its rain gardens project. (O’Keefe Ranch photo)
Spallumcheen ranch protects ecosystem with water grant

Historic O’Keefe Ranch receives $20,000 to construct and complete rain gardens project

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

(File photo)
Repeated cougar sighting on Okanagan Rail Trail

Plenty of bear sightings around the valley too

Vernon local Ryan Lazar – who specializes in 2D background design and 3D animation – is ready to start his career after a tough yet rewarding two years of studies. (Contributed)
Okanagan College students get animated at graduation

‘The pandemic has resulted in more video consumption and the animation industry is so hot right now because of it’

An e-scooter and a car bumper make for a narrow passthrough on a sidewalk out front of the Kelowna Law Courts on Wednesday, April 28. (Michael Rodriguez/Black Press)
E-scooters ready to roll in Vernon

Final bylaw changes in place to allow personal use and for companies to operate a rental program

WildSafeBC is reminding residents to keep manage wildlife attractants on their property. (WildSafeBC Central Okanagan)
WildSafeBC reminds residents to manage attractants as bears spotted in Okanagan

The most prominent reminder is to keep garbage secured indoors until collection day

Barriere RCMP nabbed two suspects who were allegedly breaking into cabins in McLure. (File photo)
Thieves nabbed by Barriere Mounties during McLure break-ins

Police Service Dog Kody instrumental in making the arrest

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

RCMP vest
Penticton beach brawl results in one arrest but no charges

People took to social media after a fight broke out at the fire pits at Okanagan Lake Saturday

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

A single motorcycle parked outside of the Kelowna Hells Angels clubhouse at 837 Ellis Street on July 9, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna Hells Angels prospect sentenced to 9 months in jail for aggravated assault

Colin Michael Bayley pleaded guilty to the downtown Kelowna assault earlier this month

Most Read