Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Changing barricade usage rule can support community

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 1, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 31, 2014 at 8:01 p.m.

Sometimes, what seem like small, unimportant changes can result in a major reaction.

The city of Victoria experienced this recently when Colby VanGundy, director of parks and recreation, noticed the city's policy on renting barricades was not being evenly enforced. The policy limits barricade use to city-sponsored events only. Any other groups that need to use them for events would have to pay a $15 charge for each barricade.

After the city decided to enforce the policy, officials of at least two parades said they would not be able to take place. The first was the Victoria Livestock Show parade, which was canceled at the time because of multiple factors, including low participation and a lack of volunteers as well as the unexpected cost of having to pay to use the barricades. Thankfully, members of the community stepped in to help, and the parade is back on. The second event was the Black History Month parade, which was scheduled for Feb. 8. The Black History Month Steering Committee, which plans and puts on the parade, would have needed to rent about 60 barricades to block off the parade route, which was not in the group's budget, Nancy Gresham, a committee member, said.

We understand the spirit of what the city intended to do by returning to the original policy. Unequal enforcement of a clear policy should be corrected. However, we are saddened to see the effects of the change playing out the way they did.

The city should use this as an opportunity to reexamine the policy. Victoria is home to many different nonprofit and community groups that host plenty of events - from parades to rodeos, festivals, benefits and more in public places. Many of these groups rely on donations and sponsorships to put on their events and cannot easily afford the extra expense of renting barricades, but the events they put on often draw people from outside communities to Victoria.

The issue is listed on the City Council's agenda for the Tuesday meeting. We encourage the council to consider changing the policy to allow free or discounted use of the barricades for nonprofits and groups that serve the community. The options could be added to the application process for holding these events and would create a consistent standard and system that can benefit everyone.

By partnering with and supporting these events through free or reduced fees for barricade rental, the city will also be supporting economic prosperity and tourism in Victoria. We encourage city officials to reexamine the barricade rental policy and adjust it to better serve the needs of the community as a whole.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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