A letter carrier, a bar bouncer, and now, a bylaw officer: Blake Pfannenschmidt has done all three. The latter position is what he’s landed here in Peachland, and you’ve probably seen him by now, walking up and down Beach Ave., or reminding us to keep our garbage bins properly stored (the bears, people!!). Pfannenschmidt (I’m going to call him Blake from now on, lol), has started his second round as our town’s seasonal bylaw officer.
“It’s good to be back,” says the Kelowna resident, who is contracted by the District via the Commissionnaires for the May to September position.
“This is a perfect job for me, it’s kind of a marriage between what I had been doing, being a bouncer and directing people to behave and then being a public servant as a letter carrier with the post office. It’s the best of both worlds, basically, and it went really well here in Peachland last year.”
There’s an art in communicating when you’re a bylaw officer, says Blake. And when you’re enforcing the district’s rules – from parking, to neighbour disputes, to exactly where you can let your dog play and poop, there’s definite potential for things to get confrontational.
“We try to seek compliance,” he says, explaining a friendly conversation goes over a lot better than an automatic ticket, depending on the situation.
“Enforcement action only needs to be taken when we can’t gain the voluntary compliance, and that’s what it’s really about. I’m the guy who will go that extra mile and check the people nearby on the beach, rather than just start writing up the tickets. You don’t need to shake people’s tailfeathers, so to speak, to get compliance. I grew up here in the Okanagan, I was born and raised in Kelowna, and I don’t intend to ever leave this place. So you’ve that BC mentality of just chill out a little bit, we can all get along, and that attitude has helped me in this position. My dad raised me with the saying that 90% of everything in life is attitude and only 10% is what actually happens, and it’s so true. And it’s how I’ve carried myself no matter what I’ve done.”
While parking in font of a fire hydrant, on private property, or in those small car parking spots in front of the Edgewater’s patio (no F150s allowed, darn it), is pretty much a ticket, one thing Blake does enjoy educating the public about is our relatively easygoing rules when it comes to dogs and the lakefront.
“Most places like Kelowna or Penticton or Vernon, dogs aren’t allowed on the beach anywhere. In Peachland, it’s only the swimming sections where dogs aren’t allowed, so wherever you see those white buoys marked out in the water; no dogs in those areas. Everywhere else you’re allowed to have your dog on the beach on leash, and if you have it engaged in water play, you can temporarily have it off leash. We don’t want the dogs tearing up and down the beach, but if it’s engaged in water play, it’s just safer for the animal to not have a leash.”
And now that the new buoys are in the water, (they were missing the last couple years due to flooding), Blake says the rules are even more clear.
“There’s four clearly-marked swimming sections along Beach Ave, and as long as people with dogs look out on the water and say ‘are there buoys in front of me?’, then they just have to move down to where the buoys end. That way we give people areas for just people that don’t want to be around dogs and because we’re such a tourism town, I’m sure that’s the reasoning behind making it dog-friendly. I’m sure you’ve noticed when this place gets busy in the summertime, parking along Beach Ave can be insane, and to tell people ‘you’ve got to park over here at the dog beach – and there may not even be parking there because that lot gets used for boat trailers – then people who are just coming through town can take their dog for a little walk, it’s hot, they can let their dog cool off real quick, and it makes it convenient for tourists.”
So, is it the tourists that get the bulk of the tickets every summer?
No way, says Blake.
“I would say most of them are locals. A lot of the time I’ll get ‘but it’s Peachland, there’s a bylaw guy? But someone has to enforce the rules that are out there.”
Fair enough. Blake and I wrapped up our conversation, and he left the View house to start his afternoon shift. A short time later, I got into my truck, and turned left on Beach. As I passed the Gasthaus, I saw Blake walking along the pathway. I waved hello, and he raised his arm too.
“Hey! Slow down, it’s 30 here!”