I thought I would share a little story about Bylaw Bill Bruce on the eve of his retirement.
Years ago I worked at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association in senior's outreach and urban planning, where I met Bill in his capacity as head of Bylaw and before that, as a traffic technician.
A common fixture in the community was a long-time resident who we all knew just as Elizabeth. Elizabeth suffered from an obsessive compulsive disorder, and her yard was filled with heaps of refuse gathered from the neighbourhood. We would see Elizabeth on her daily walks, usually with a pack of scruffy looking Pomeranians in tow.
It came to our attention from one of her neighbours that Elizabeth's house was without power, heat or plumbing and likely had been for years. Bylaw Bill was called in, assessed the situation, and discovered more than 20 dogs in varying states of health and dreadful conditions in the home. A couple of residents demanded that Elizabeth be forced out of her house and institutionalized, but Bill patiently explained about her disorder and the steps he was going to take to improve her living conditions.
The community put an article in the Hillhurst Sunnyside Voice asking for help from the public while Bill worked on the logistics of finding Elizabeth temporary lodging. The bylaw team and neighbours, under Bill's guidance, emptied the house of its contents and then volunteer tradespeople descended to gut, rewire, drywall and re-plumb. One neighbour even sewed lovely floral curtains for every window. Furniture and appliances were donated from across the city.
Elizabeth was delighted to return to her fresh, clean home. Bill enforced a limit of two neutered Poms and visited her often to ensure that she didn't revert to her old habits. Neighbours checked in on her regularly with plates of food and baking and Elizabeth lived happily in her house until she died several years later.
After getting elected, I quickly discovered that Bill was a trusted adviser for Council members. Our calls were always answered, even on weekends, and we counted on Bill to resolve the most esoteric of problems. Bill would drop by City Hall with photos of kittens or puppies or occasionally a live one in his pocket, trying to peddle them off.
Thank you, Bill, for teaching us what it means to be a good neighbour, and for a million other things.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.