Morinville has no plans to discuss handgun ban

by Colin Smith

Morinville is not considering the introduction of a municipal handgun bylaw if allowed to do so by the passage of a bill like Bill-C21, which died on the order of paper and would need to be reintroduced tot he House of Commons.

Currently before Parliament, Bill C-21 proposes changes to the federal Firearms Act and Criminal Code, including allowing municipalities to enact restrictions on handgun possession.

“The administration has absolutely no plans to bring forward any legislation,” said Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne during a discussion of the town’s 2021 3rd Quarter Review at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The issue had been raised during Council’s first full meeting by Councillor Maurice St. Denis, who noted that he and other candidates fielded a number of questions about Bill C-21 during the municipal election campaign.

St. Denis noted that, although Morinville doesn’t have what could be described as a gun culture, Morinville is a military community and many residents are interested in hunting and outdoor activities.

“Is there an opportunity for the Town of Morinville to temper some of those concerns and fears of residents that there would be sort of a push for a handgun bylaw in the community?” St. Denis asked.

Labonne said that could be addressed by an administrative conversation among Morinville RCMP Staff Sergeant Chris Palfy, Enforcement Services Sergeant William Norton, Fire Chief Brad Boddez, Manager of Community and Infrastructure Services Iain Bushell and himself.

“We’ll give some thought to making sure any messaging we want to implement in the future is clear, concise and puts the responsibility where it needs to be and there is a level of clarity,” Labonne said. “And we can certainly commit to doing that over the next few weeks.”

Staff Sgt. Palfy, who was in attendance at the meeting, said he would certainly participate in any outreach program council wanted to undertake.

“Gun possession and the laws that have come out of Ottawa and then in Alberta are more an issue of politics and less an issue of policing,” Palfy said. “As a police force, we tend to wait until it is codified and see what our job is at the end of it.”

Bill C-21 was not completed and died on the order of paper. It would need to be reintroduced.

Questions Asked On Third Quarter Statistics

Palfy was asked by Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe if statistics for the past quarter included in the report showing a rise in crime reflected a return to historical norms.

“Yes, looking at the traffic we have coming in and out of the detachment it has increased significantly compared to the first year of Covid and gone back to normal, whatever that is now,” he replied

Dafoe also pointed to a 700% rise in the number of reported sexual assaults, from two to eight.

“We are very much aware of that statistic going up,” said Palfy. “It has gone up in Sturgeon County too.”

He said a specific study has been commissioned from an analyst to figure out the reason for the sexual assault increase,

“I know what the drivers are for those specific statistics,” Palfy declared. “We have a plan in place to drive that down again.”

The quarterly report was presented to Council by Iain Bushell, who outlined a number of highlights for the period of July to September, including progress on capital projects including the Splash Park and Outdoor Multi-Sport Facility, the Rock the Rails and Summer Travelling Adventure programs and Danny Hooper concert at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

Council received the report as information.

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