Bylaws are often considered the ugly ducklings of the planning world, but I like them because they cover issues that people really care about. Ask anyone whether golf should be able to be practised in council reserves, where dogs should and shouldn't be allowed to go off lead, and whether roosters should be able to live next door to them and you'll get an emphatic response. Bylaws are the stuff of everyday life.
My toughest bylaw work so far has been developing and consulting on a policy and bylaw about the control of dogs. Under the Dog Control Act 1996, councils are required to notify all dog owners about any changes to their dog policy, which is closely linked to the content of their bylaw. That's a lot of people being personally invited to comment on a bylaw that impacts on where they can exercise their dog, on and off lead. Combine that with cyclists and pedestrians who have experienced near misses with dogs on the loose, or whose children suffer nightmares from dogs jumping up on them, and it's a recipe for conflict.
Dog stories are great fodder for local newspapers too - owners and their dogs walking down the main street in a protest march made the front page of my local paper.
Even though it was difficult, it was also wonderful to be part of the democratic process. I witnessed councillors grappling with 700 submissions, genuinely listening to people representing both sides of the argument, and seeking win-win solutions.