New bylaws in the works for Morinville

By Staff

Morinville – Council reviewed and gave first reading to three new bylaws at its July 13 regular meeting: a parkland bylaw, off-highway vehicle bylaw and a firearms bylaw.

The Town’s Parkland Bylaw has been crafted to reflect the popularity and trends in Morinville’s parks and sport facilities. Under the new bylaw, definitions have been added to protect wildlife and vegetation, and permissions have been changed to allow Morinville residents and visitors to town greater use of Morinville’s parkland areas.

One of the changes to the bylaw is the removal of the word litter, replaced with the word waste, human or otherwise. Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said he was disturbed by the amount of litter he sees scattered on some streets in town.

“We need to stop people in this community thinking it’s a garbage can,” he said.

Councillor Joseph Trapani questioned how changes to the bylaw would be enforced.

“How will it protect citizens in a way it didn’t before?” he asked.

Morinville’s Interim Manager of Enforcement Services Donna Tona told council that the new bylaws give peace officers the mandate but not the equipment, and that the 2011 budget proposal will have a list of equipment her department needs to better enforce the bylaws.

Some of that equipment will be used to enforce the new off highway vehicle bylaw, a piece of legislation designed to bring Morinville in line with provincial regulations, including the traffic safety act. An increase in ATV deaths in the past three years has led the province to call for increased education and vigilance.

The new off-highway vehicle bylaw has also been updated to reflect the changing powers of Morinville’s peace officers and to provide an angel clause for those using ATVs for community services, snow removal, disaster relief or search and rescue efforts. There is also a clause allowing ATVs to be used in parades.

Tona said penalties in the new bylaw have been enhanced, and that a safety helmet provision had been put in place.

Perhaps the biggest change to the proposed bylaw is a clause that makes property owners guilty of an offence if an off-highway vehicle was knowingly used in contravention of the bylaw on the owner’s property.

“If an owner of a property, like a developer or something, is allowing 14-year-olds or 12-year-olds or 10-year-olds to run around on his or her property, they are in contravention,” Tona said. “That is in keeping with the provincial regulations and in keeping with the statutes.”

Morinville’s firearms bylaw replaces a 14-year-old bylaw passed in 1996, and combines the earlier Projectile and the Firearms and Dangerous Weapons Bylaw.

Highlights of the new bylaw include an allowance for replica firearms used for historical events and re-enactments. Tona said in the old bylaw, Morinville would not have been able to use replica firearms in its centennial parade, should it wish to.

Additionally, the bylaw includes clauses to reflect the Authorization to Transport Act and Federal Firearms Act. Tona explained that the RCMP Detachment commander will provide permits and permissions to discharge a firearm and to rule on prohibited weapons under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Penalties have been beefed up to keep in line with the criminal code and provincial statutes.

Councillor Gosselin questioned how a resident defines what is and is not a weapon, citing pellet rifles whose muzzle velocity is below the qualifying feet per second, and wondered if they are exempt from the bylaw.

“How does dad know how to govern his kid when he gives him his first pellet gun or something, and the proper use of it in municipal boundaries,” Gosselin asked.

Tona said once the bylaw passes third reading, education documents with links to appropriate information will be placed on the Town’s website.

A more refined draft of the bylaw will be brought back to council for second and third reading at a later date.

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