Wetaskiwin city council gave second and third reading to a bylaw at it’s Jan. 11 council meeting.
The bylaw comes from the protective services department wanting to combine several city bylaws to make information access easier and more manageable for the public, as well as bylaw and policing services.
Leigh Sawicki, director of protective services, says the community standards bylaw is an accumulation of several other bylaws that were already in place in the city and no new punishable or prohibited action were added.
“The only thing that’s new is the actual penalty section of the bylaw,” said Sawicki.
During a brief presentation at the council meeting Sawicki said most of the included actions previously resulted in automatic court time. “Which the RCMP had a hard time with.”
“It’s just giving a better tool to our police services,” he added.
The community standards bylaw names 41 offenses punishable by a fine ranging from littering and bullying — “bullying means verbal or physical abuse, threats, taunts, teasing, name calling or repeated abusive communication, direct or through any medium whatsoever”, as stated in the bylaw, to the accumulation of automobile parts visible from outside the property to obstruction of enforcement.
Each action begins with a $250 fine for the first offence, moving up to $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. The exception is obstruction of enforcement, which begins at $500 to $1,000 and $1,500 for a third time offense.
Sawicki says some of the offences, such as spitting, will admittedly be more difficult to enforce than others, but most are still common in community standard bylaws across the province. “If we don’t have them in the bylaw it’s unenforceable, period.”
The community standards bylaw replaces and repeals the city’s noise abatement, noise abatement amendment, nuisance, nuisance amendment, public safety and curfew bylaws.