The city’s latest attempt at dampening scenes of public disorder, harassment and other anti-social activity in the downtown core is now official with council formally adopting a bylaw outlining how it expects citizens to act when out and about.
That happened at the July 6 council meeting by a unanimous vote bringing in the formally-titled Safe Streets Bylaw.
With the bylaw already having three readings as required and with wording changed and council having already extensively debate the matter, there was no comment or discussion prior to the vote.
Provisions ban urination or defecation in public places, violent confrontations or struggles, abusive language and being intoxicated in public places.
Also banned is panhandling “in a manner that would cause obstruction by sitting or laying on a sidewalk in a manner which obstructs or impedes the convenient passage or pedestrian traffic.”
Panhandling can also not take place within five metres of an automated teller machine, and entrances to financial institutions, public washrooms bus stops or bus shelters, liquor stores and cannabis stores.
Smoking and vaping is also be banned within six metres of shelters or locations where people wait for public transit, or other transportation, and within the same distance of doorways.
The bylaw is in effect on just public property and will not cover private properties such as the two malls on Lakelse Ave.
Bylaw wording during the proposal stage was passed to a wide variety of social service organizations and the RCMP for comment.
The response of many was that the bylaw affected homeless persons and low income people when compared to others.
And many organizations doubted that fines would be effective in controlling anti-social behaviours.
Fines called for in the bylaw will be no less than $100 and no more than $50,000.
During the proposal stage, councillors questioned the $50,000 figure but were told that came from legal advice so as to present a consistent and uniform fine structure in its bylaws.
Enforcing the bylaw’s provisions now falls to the city’s bylaw and community safety officers.