Law enforcement dilemma at Peace Hills Park

Peace Hills Park is located outside of the City of Wetaskiwin corporate limits and therein lies the crux of the problem.

Peace Hills Park is located outside of the City of Wetaskiwin corporate limits. Therefore, city peace officers do not have the authority to enforce city bylaws within the park. The county considers the park to be “private property” as it is owned by the city. Therefore, county peace officers cannot enforce either city or county bylaws within the park.

At the same time there is a problem with issues related to the enforcement of off leash dogs, use of parks by dog owners and the clean-up of dog feces. City administration presented a report to council addressing these issues. Included in the report are the number of complaints received by the community peace officers,  how they have been dealt with and any actions that have been undertaken to date. Also included were options for increased education and enforcement of this issue

In the meantime peace officers are challenged when it comes to the enforcement of owners who have their animals off leash or have animals defecating in city parks or neighbour’s property, as they need to catch the offender in the act. Most often when they receive the complaint the offender has already left the area.

To ensure authority when policing the local park, Section 12 of the Municipal Government Act states: A bylaw of a municipality applies only inside its boundaries unless a) one municipality agrees with another municipality that a bylaw passed by one municipality has effect inside the boundaries of the other municipality and the council of each municipality passes a bylaw approving the agreement, or b) this or any other enactment says that the bylaw applies outside the boundaries of the municipality.

City administration is working with the County of Wetaskiwin administration and city legal counsel. They have determined that it is possible for the City of Wetaskiwin community peace officers to enforce city bylaws within Peace Hills Park if the appropriate bylaws (one by each municipality – county and city) and an agreement between the city and the county are in place.

City council granted unanimous consent for third and final reading of Bylaw 1854-15 to enter into agreement with the County of Wetaskiwin to allow for the enforcement specific bylaws of the City of Wetaskiwin within Peace Hills Park.

This agreement sets up the framework to allow enforcement at the discretion of the city. It does not contemplate any specific service level, which is something that would be solely at council’s discretion.

The next steps

The community peace officer department is looking into several options with the reporting of complaints that may assist with the enforcement of the park issues. They are looking at reviewing and/or revising our on-line complaint process. Another option they are exploring is whether there is a “complaint” app that would allow the public to take a photograph and attach it to the app and send it to the city peace officers who in turn can follow up.

Frequently asked questions:

What types of public education initiatives have been implemented through public works on the

issues of responsible pet ownership? Communications are through the city’s communications department and signs have been posted on the bike paths.

2. How many doggie doo bag stations do we have in the city and Peace Hills Park? The city has two in Peace Hills Park, which is the same number as By-the-Lake Park, and in the rest of the city we have seven.

3. How often does the city maintain these stations or replace the bags? Bags are refilled when garbage cans are emptied on Fridays or when people phone in saying one is empty.

4. What are the costs associated with maintaining the stations and what is the cost of adding

new ones? It costs approximately $300 per dispenser and to add a garbage can is anywhere from $250 to $600 depending on what type of garbage it holds. To maintain them we use biodegradable bags and it is about $50 for 400 bags.

 

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