Bill Bruce retiring director of animal and bylaw services

So you’re retiring?

Well yeah I’m going to pursue some of my personal interests but I’ll still be back in September doing a project with the city on citizen engagement. So I’ll still have lots for you to write about. It’s part of the mayor’s goal to reform government and cut red tape. It’s first talking to staff and then to community and trying to move us closer together.

Are you coming back as a volunteer or as a consultant?

As a consultant.

How long have you been with the city?

Thirty-one and a half years.

Where did you start?


What was your role?

I was doing things like I designed the truck route system the dangerous goods routes I looked after the traffic bylaw. I did a lot of special project work and community engagement there. I’ve always been in community engagement. That kind of work I’ve always been involved in so I’ve always been a community advocate and that’s something I plan to continue doing is working with communities and see that we’re getting better services to them faster.

Did you go from traffic to bylaw?

No I did a stint at the city commissioner’s office. After that I was there for the transition to the new model of city manager and then I finished my two years and requested this posting in bylaw because I just saw so many opportunities here.

You are well known for moving bylaw away from punishing people and more towards compliance.

It’s a philosophy. Most people will do the right thing if you give them the opportunity so it starts with clear identification of what the expectations are. You know where’s the bar? Is it reasonable? And give you the chance to do the right thing. But the stick is always available and we do write tickets just not as many as we used to. But we have higher compliance than we’ve ever had.

My little niece once said she wants to be a bylaw officer so she can fine people for littering. Do you still give tickets out for littering?

Oh yeah. I don’t know if you noticed council really supported us for doing that but if you noticed this spring it wasn’t as bad as it’s been in the past. So it does have an affect. Knowing that there’s a $750 fine hanging over your head….

Is compliance what you’re most proud of or is there something else that sticks out?

The first big thing we did was the whole community standards approach and just the things like having a community standards fund we can dip into to help communities without a lot of red tape. We just have to validate that it’s a good cause. So this year we’ll do 72 voluntary community cleanups where we supply the resources the trucks and haul it away and they supply the volunteers to take charge of their community. That’s a huge piece. The responsible pet owner — shifting away from that old animal control model to a responsible pet owner model. And the strides we’ve made there in reducing euthanasia. We won’t euthanize a healthy adoptable animal in this facility.

You do still euthanize from time to time I imagine.

Well you have animals… we euthanized one last week a puppy with advanced distemper. There’s nothing you can do to save that dog so you have to put it down. That’s why there’s no such thing as no kill. You have a dog that’s been severely injured by a car you can’t save him you just wait for him to suffer and die? No you put him down humanely. We have animals that are so aggressive they’ve attacked and injured people; they need to be put down. They’re not safe to have out in society so we have to do those tough calls.

What are you looking forward to most in your retirement?

I’ll be heavily involved in this community project which is my first love. I think not working seven days a week will be nice. I’m looking forward to weekends off. Do a little more camping in the mountains take some pictures actually play my guitar.

Instead of just building them?

Yeah I’d like to be putting out two or three guitars a year because I have a lot of musical friends that are dying for a guitar some custom-made for them. I do some waterfowl carving I’d like to do some more of that because pretty much everything I carve goes to one charity or another to be auctioned off for donations. So I’ll do some more of that and the project working for the communities in Calgary. I’m really looking forward to that.