Council proposes new behaviour bylaw

“The business hours bylaw is a piece of junk.” Mayor Rick Bonnett.

As the business hours bylaw is on the verge of its last breath, Ponoka town council has proposed a new conduct bylaw.

First reading was passed on the Public Behaviour Bylaw and Ted Dillon, director of protective services, says his department did quite a bit of research on the subject. He told councillors Feb. 25 that similar bylaws from other municipalities were looked at.

The cities of Medicine Hat, Airdrie and Calgary, and the towns of Black Diamond, Cardston, and Vegreville all have similar bylaws. Dillon feels this is another option for police in keeping the town safe.

“It’s just another tool in the tool belt to assist police,” he offered.

Mayor Rick Bonnett suggested they pass first reading of the bylaw to give residents and councillors chance to review the bylaw. Councillors Tim Falkiner, Teri Underhill and Carla Prediger were not at the meeting and Bonnett feels they need time before making any more decisions on it.

Under the new bylaw, the following penalties are foreseen:

Offences and fines

• Fight in public, $250

• Loitering and obstructing, $250

• Stand or put feet on a table/bench/planter/sculpture, $50

• Panhandling, $100

• Urinate or defecate in public, $300

• Spit in public, $100

• Dangerous actions, $100

Bonnett speaks on the intent of the behaviour bylaw

While the behaviour bylaw must go through second and third readings still, it appears to be something of a substitute for the business hours bylaw, which council wants to repeal; a vote of 5-1 in favour of a repealing bylaw was passed Feb. 11.

“The business hours bylaw is a piece of junk,” stated Bonnett.

He clarified his statement to say that despite voting in favour of restricting liquor sales last year, Bonnett would rather have had the behaviour bylaw in place.

This new bylaw is only in the discussion phase and Bonnett said the protective services committee, which Councillors Loanna Gulka and Sandra Lyon are a part of, will need to review the wording.

The goal is to go after lawbreakers. “It doesn’t affect any law-abiding citizen or business.”

He suggests the business hours bylaw affected businesses in town rather than those who were committing illegal acts. Legislation from the Alberta government, he feels, would be a better option than having a small handful of communities restricting sales.

The issue moves from one community to the next, he added.

“If we want to affect change on that side, we need to lobby the provincial government,” Bonnet said.

One provision in the business hours bylaw allowed the sales of liquor after 10 p.m. during the Ponoka Stampede and Bonnett said he was the proponent of that consolation. “I’ve got to admit that I was probably wrong on that.”

This proposed bylaw will provide protection year round, he explained, while the previous bylaw had other businesses worried they would be targeted next.

“That puts a bad taste in my mouth personally,” said Bonnett.