Council gets a first look at revised Community Standards Bylaw

by Colin Smith

The potential to drink alcohol in the park and a requirement to remove graffiti from buildings within 72 hours are among the changes Morinville residents could see if a proposed Community Standards Bylaw is adopted.

The new consolidated Bylaw would cover all public behavior and enforceable property matters now scattered among a number of other bylaws.

A draft of the proposed Bylaw was presented to Town Council at its November 19 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Matters to be covered under the Bylaw include noise, property standards, parkland, vandalism, firearms, public behaviour and nuisances.

A new bylaw section would allow law enforcement personnel to address various types of physical, nuisance and mischief complaints without having to rely on the Criminal Code of Canada. Panhandling has been added to the Bylaw revisions.

“Currently police and Peace officers are responding to calls but are unable to provide a level of deterrence provided by a violation ticket without charging someone criminally, which is often seen as heavy-handed given the circumstances,” states an Administration bylaw presentation.

Using projectiles, directing lights or cameras into people’s dwellings and destroying wildlife habitat would be restricted, while decibel-based noise standards for both day and night would be introduced.

Camping in a park without permission will not be allowed. Alcohol restrictions in the park were removed from the proposed Bylaw. Although currently not permitted by provincial laws, Administration say the removal allows for the conversation to happen if desired.

Some other substantial changes to be found in the new Bylaw relate to property maintenance.

The proposed Bylaw now refers to structures that are unfit for human habitation and requires them to be returned to habitable condition or demolished within 24 months.

Restrictions are introduced on the storage of industrial fluids and the accumulation of hazardous materials such as paint, oil, antifreeze, petroleum products, pesticides and disinfectants. Directing water from eavestroughs towards neighbouring properties and sidewalks would also be restricted.

Enforcement orders would now come into effect with reasonable notice rather than the minimum seven days notice required by the current Bylaw.

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“Having a minimum time frame restricts officers from ensuring a timely conclusion for a file,” states the Administration presentation. “Reasonable notice still protects residents and ensures they are given appropriate time to address outstanding concerns.”

The aim of the bylaw consolidation is to group similar concerns together, making it easier for residents to find information they are looking for, according to the summary.

For example, noise restrictions, which are now variously to be found in the Traffic Bylaw, Noise Bylaw, Community Standards Bylaw and Parks Bylaw.

This will make it easier for bylaw enforcement officers to explain, and at the same time, plain language will be used in the revised Bylaw wherever possible, making it easier to read.

The move is also in line with “leading practices” in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer.

Preparation of the new Community Standards Bylaw follows a review mandated by a clause in the current Bylaw. In preparing for this review the Administration evaluated historical concerns with the Bylaw.
Policies and bylaws related to derelict properties were also to be reviewed 2019 as set out in Town of Morinville 2019-2021 Strategic Plan.

The Administration presentation indicates the consolidated Bylaw is designed to maintain the original spirit and intent of the measures in all affected bylaws. Changes were to be consistent with other Town of Morinville bylaws, where possible, including definitions and expectations.

Council accepted the presentation for information. The Bylaw will come forward for first reading at a later date.

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