Fed up residents make complaint at Ponoka County council

Fed up residents make complaint at Ponoka County council

“Careless” dirt bike, ATV activity spurs residents to call out Ponoka County

Several residents from the Spruce Road area are more than a bit fed up when it comes to a situation that has been boiling over this summer.

Ron and Geraldine Stimson along with a few other area residents appeared before Ponoka County council on Sept. 10 to speak about the activities of several youth that have been running dirt bikes, ATVs and even vehicles around the area in what they describe as a dangerous and careless manner.

The crux of the matter concerns the vast amount of noise generated as well as the many safety concerns with the way the bikes and vehicles are being operated in the areas around Spruce Road, Hwy. 2A and Dodds Road.

“For some context, these kids have been racing dirt bikes and quads within 50 metres of our house for hours on end, racing a truck with no muffler in their field for several hours at a time for many consecutive days and occasionally rip past as close to our house as possible,” Ron told council in his lengthy presentation.

“We have witnessed several dangerous and illegal stunts, including dirt bikes and quads racing out of the ditch onto the road, not wearing helmets and driving fast along the side of the road past kids and parents as well as those on horseback.

“More recently, it’s been racing vehicles side by side down Spruce Road.”

Other issues mentioned were trespassing on neighbours’ property, shining lasers into people’s basement windows, ripping up lawns with off-road vehicles and flying drones over some neighbour’s properties.

“One particular situation was a loud racing type car raced side by side against another car from that same house,” Stimson explained.

“Yet, when these kids are confronted, they often laugh, while attempts to speak to them and their parents leads to either laughter or they pretend not to speak or understand English.”

As far as getting the police or bylaw enforcement involved, Stimson stated the past several months have been an exercise in futility.

“There is no easy way to contact the county’s bylaw enforcement after hours and calls to the RCMP end up with an answering machine. When asked, the RCMP said to call 911, yet when we did in the case of the street racing, there was no police presence and no one called us back.” he said.

“Each time these things have been discussed with the county, we were told people move here so they can do these things. Well, we are here to say we also have a right to enjoy our rural property without putting up with this major aggravation.”

The residents also feel the situation is being exacerbated by the systemic problems with the county’s bylaw enforcement and would like to see more resources committed to enforcing the various bylaws after regular business hours. They also requested the county continue to follow up on the various complaints and escalate the actions against the offenders so it may put a halt to these activities.

County peace officer Les Squires was on hand and explained the residential area mentioned only came under the county’s noise bylaw about a month ago, which left his hands tied previously.

“Only recently was the subdivision they live in included under the county bylaw, so when I last called and talked to these kids, I gave them a copy of that new bylaw that indicated a $500 fine. And, that they will stop this because they are strictly doing it to annoy their neighbours,” he said.

“Since then, there hasn’t been an issue and now if it comes up again, they will be charged.”

Squires added that he’s also been in touch with the Ponoka RCMP detachment and been told the situation is a non-issue for them, unless there becomes an immediate safety issue.

This leaves enforcement up to him and the problem comes in attempting to catch them in the act.

In addition, Cutforth acknowledged that not all of the activities being done are not bad, but that the location in a rural residential area is the wrong place for it.

In the end, the residents accepted that the county is doing what it can and that hopefully the threat of a large fine will see the activities cease, especially with summer winding down.