After many meetings and much consideration and research the Town of Ponoka has instituted a curfew for youth under the age of 16. The third and final reading of the curfew bylaw was passed at a council meeting on Sept. 9.
Brad Watson, chief administrative officer, believes that the bylaw will be useful in maintaining and improving the safety of the community.
“I think it’s an excellent asset for the community, it’s something that everyone can use,” said Watson. “It helps parents, groups and organizations and is a tool for the police. We have had a very positive response.”
The curfew is intended to keep youth off the streets during the time between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to help maintain their health and protect people and property. The bylaw means that youth are not to be in public places without a parent or guardian during curfew hours unless there is an emergency.
Youth that fail to abide by the curfew will be told to go home by an officer. If the youth do not go home after the warning police may bring them home or hold them until they are picked up by their parent or guardian and if there is still a problem, a fine may be issued.
Watson says that the Town researched and invited comments from the community in regards to the bylaw. The Town received 24 responses, 8:1 which were positive, the three which were in opposition were concerned about constitutional purposes or children’s rights.
“With the community interest and buy-in, it shows that there are people out there that would like to be a part of making the community safer and this will help them,” said Watson.
Ponoka RCMP Sgt. Glenn DeMaere feels that the new curfew will assist the detachment when it comes to looking after young people.
“It provides us with another tool that we can use to deal with youth that are 16 years old and under. Prior to the bylaw we didn’t have anything specific and this gives us the authority to deal with youth on some level,” said DeMaere. “We’ll see how things progress and how successful our enforcement strategies are and adjust them as required.”]
The Town is also entertaining the idea of possibly sounding a siren at 11 p.m. to serve as a reminder that the curfew has begun.
Although there seem to be many residents who are in favour of the bylaw, Watson expects that the enforcement and accepting of the curfew will not be a completely smooth transistion.
“We’re not naive to believe that this is going to be perfect,” said Watson. “But it will definitely be an asset that will work to benefit as we work together as a team.”