You can’t legislate kindness. It’s a lesson that sunk in with Penticton council this week.
A lack of public response prompted Penticton council to scrap the city’s Snow Angel program. The program aimed to line up volunteers with seniors and others unable to clear the snow from walkways in front of their home. However, while 48 residents signed up to receive assistance in 2011, only six volunteers were registered.
The problem: The need for a criminal record check to protect vulnerable residents and other aspects of the application process left many potential volunteers feeling they would be spending more time dealing with red tape than snow-covered sidewalks.
Council’s decision came as a blow to Coun. John Vassilaki, who introduced the program, but it had become evident that the Snow Angel program has proven to be too cumbersome to effectively administer.
But City Hall isn’t about to just sit back and tell the most vulnerable members of the community to fend for themselves.
City public works manager Len Robson recommended replacing the initiative with an advertising-based program that promotes neighbours helping neighbours.
“We want to encourage people to look around their neighbourhoods and determine who requires assistance, and provide that,” he said.
And it is in our own neighbourhoods where this type of effort can be most effectively administered. Hopefully, we have not reached the point where we need government to tell us when to lend a hand to our neighbours in need. Penticton residents have shown time and again that helping those less fortunate is something woven into the fabric that has always held the community together.