Town considers behaviour bylaw changes

“I would much rather hit a speed bump than hit a kid.” Coun. Teri Underhill

Town councillors are considering the benefits of large fines under proposed behaviour bylaw that passed first reading in March.

Ted Dillon, director of protective services for the Town of Ponoka, presented some changes to the proposal June 19 during a committee of the whole meeting. He says this bylaw covers similar issues found in the Criminal Code but fines will not be reflected on an offender’s permanent record.

“This is a way to address the fighting, especially downtown,” explained Dillon.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said he would like to see high figure fines for people who break these rules as it may be a preventative measure to trouble makers.

Coun. Loanna Gulka asked if the offenses are already dealt with under Criminal Code, then why a bylaw was needed.

Dillon said that the bylaw can bring hefty fines and he said some communities charge as much as $5,000 for an offence. “If we raise our penalties…it has more teeth than the Criminal Code.”

There was some concern that RCMP have other priorities and asking them to catch culprits over the bylaw is an unrealistic expectation.

“It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to enforce it,” said Coun. Marc Yaworski.

Bonnett suggested that the benefit of the bylaw is if a person does get caught offending, then laying a fine would be a deterrent. “If they’re belligerent and they keep on going…they (police) have the tool to give them everything they’ve got.”

Acting CAO Betty Quinlan said summer is the busiest time for police.

As this was a committee of the whole meeting, no decisions were made.

Council looks at off-site levies

Councillors recently heard information about proposed changes to the town’s two off-site levies bylaws, which have not been changed since 1978 and 1987.

There are two off-site levy bylaws that deal with different infrastructure needs.

These proposed changes were first presented by Tagish Engineering during a committee of the whole meeting April 15, it gave councillors a chance to discuss the merit of adding levies to developers.

Betty Jurykoski, planning and development officer for the Town of Ponoka suggests council follow Tagish Engineering’s recommendation to implement the bylaw in stages.

Councillors worried that the fees, which are higher than current rates, would be a deterrent for developers interested in Ponoka but Jurykoski said most developers expect to pay some fees. “That’s a standard practice for development.”

Quinlan added that without off-site levies, paying for future infrastructure development is be a challenge. “That’s a big piece of the funding puzzle.”

As new developments add to infrastructure needs in Ponoka, paying for that need must be accounted for somehow and the town’s current off-site levies do not adequately prepare for infrastructure needs.

“We do collect, but it is by no means equitable…and it is not reflective of the market,” explained Jurykoski.

Quinlan says the capital reserves for infrastructure growth is relatively low at $1.8 million.

Speeding an issue within the town

Speeding motorists are causing concern for some councillors who have received complaints over the issue.

Quinlan suggested one option is to install speed “humps” on streets where there are chronic speeding issues. She says the humps, which are not the same as speed bumps, can be installed for approximately $1,200 and can be removed in the winter.

“I would suggest that we may want to do some pilots,” added Quinlan.

Coun. Tim Falkiner did not like the idea. “For someone who doesn’t speed, they are a pain in the ass.”

He feels the speed humps are more of a punishment to individuals living on that street than to the offenders.

This brought about some passionate debate from Coun. Teri Underhill, who feels if the humps slow down speeders, parents would feel safer walking their children on the sidewalks or streets where there are no sidewalks. “I would much rather hit a speed bump than hit a kid.”

Coun. Loanna Gulka agreed. She feels the humps would be a way to garner feedback from residents and suggested that a speed limit for some motorists is not necessarily law.

“To the people that speed, it’s a suggestion,” said Gulka.

Coun. Yaworski added that if they did not use speed humps then photo radar may be the only other option. “In my mind, they will work as a 24-hour deterrent.”