The Troscadh or Cealachan was an ancient Irish form of protest codified in pre-Christian civic law. A protester would refuse food and fast on the doorstep of their accused offender.
Students of contemporary history will note the modern Irish equivalent of the hunger strike was employed as a tool during 20th Century political struggles in Ireland.
A Revelstoke businessperson threatened to deploy the hunger strike last week, intending to camp out on the steps of Revelstoke City Hall until officials coughed up the paperwork for her business sign.
Elaine Gayle owns the Eco-Cents discount store in the Revelstoke industrial park. After nearly two months of waiting, she lost her patience with city staff on July 9,
“It’s just been a long process of passing the buck,” she told the Times Review. “They couldn’t find my file again today.”
Vacations, missing files and staff departures were all given as excuses for the delays.
Gayle said she lost it when staff asked her to come back yet again. “I said, ‘No, I’m not coming back again.’ I was getting quite irate.” She told staff she’d start her hunger strike on city hall steps that evening.
The city CAO Tim Palmer eventually stepped in, making several phone calls and getting the issue sorted out that day. Despite the resolution, Gayle said she wanted to publicize ongoing service issues at city hall; the long, slow sign approval process has resulted in major flare-ups before.
She’s losing business everyday because of lack of signage, she said.
Later that day at city council’s regular meeting, CAO Tim Palmer told council the incident was an example of city hall coming to terms with service issues.
“It is my position that today’s issue was an example of us not providing timely service,” he said. “I saw it as an unacceptable service.”
At the July 9 meeting, he presented an update on city hall restructuring, saying the changes are designed to improve turnaround times for things like business sign applications.
Palmer explained he intervened to deal with the complaint. “This gets to the core of why we are doing this,” he said.
I spoke with Gayle twice; once before the issue had been resolved, then later in the day when it had. Since it was dealt with, did she want to drop the option of a story in the news media?
No, she said.
“What ends do we have to come to to get results?” she asked. “City hall is not getting their act together. and businesses are taking the brunt of it.”
Correction: The original sub-headline for this story said the RCMP were “called in” after Elaine Gayle loudly complained at city hall about her sign delays. In fact, two RCMP officers were there and observed the complaint, but they were at city hall on other business at the time, and came over to observe after hearing the commotion. They were not called by city staff.