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Man of the law becomes man of the bylaw

by Isabel Mosseler

West Nipissing has a new by-law enforcement officer, who sees himself as a problem solver. Robert Pilon has come out of retirement to take on the part time job of making bylaws work by using a voice of reason. “I enjoy it,” says the 66-year-old retired OPP officer. “People say to me, ‘how can you enjoy it? You’re always in conflict?’ If you can solve conflict, then you enjoy it… Mostly what I find is that people don’t want to fight with their neighbour… The thing I’ve found most of the time is that the neighbour doesn’t realize he or she is doing something to antagonize the other neighbour.”

That’s what bylaws are for, to address those situations: parking; dog poo; property complaints; snow removal… all the little things, and some big things, that ruffle feathers or cause unsafe or difficult conditions.   

Pilon retired in 2003 after 30 years with the OPP. “I started my career in Sturgeon Falls at the old detachment. …I came back to it in 1999 when the amalgamation happened and I was the superintendent in charge of administration at the Northeast Region.” He was also the lead in that first OPP costing. “I had a lot of fond memories of the West Nipissing area, so when I retired, Sue (his wife) and I moved back here.”

The couple, married 50 years, have four children, two teachers in North Bay and two police officers. Pilon is also a 20-year member of the Royal Canadian Legion, on the board of the golf course in Verner (where they lived for 10 years), a member of the Knights of Columbus #11585, and a curler.

Upon retirement, the Pilons went to Florida every winter for ten years. They recently sold their holiday home and are spending winters in Sturgeon Falls. “And winter is a long time. We’re very busy, but I like to have something to do. So this last summer I worked at the marina as a supervisor and I really enjoyed it, working with summer students, and renewed my links with people.” He says this new position is a natural extension of his community involvement. 

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