City Council approves new Public Places Bylaw
Lethbridge's new Public Places Bylaw is designed to be a foundation to clearly communicate community expectations for respectful behaviour in public. It is anticipated that, applied fairly and judiciously, Bylaw 6280 will contribute to maintaining a safe and viable community.
City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously on both second and third reading in favour of the Public Places Bylaw, which includes a start date of July 1.
"The primary purpose of the Public Places Bylaw is not to persecute individuals, but instead to clearly define expected behaviour and educate the public as to community standards," says Deputy Mayor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel, who is also Chair of the Community Safety Standing Policy Committee which sent recommendations to Council.
When enacted Bylaw 6280 will include:
- A broader definition of public spaces than that in the previous Streets Bylaw, improving the breadth of where the bylaw is applicable and improving public safety
- Undesirable behaviours in the community including littering, graffiti, public urination, spitting, fighting, bullying, panhandling, weapons and fireworks
- A standard specified penalty of $300 for all of these offences
While the bylaw does add additional offences and increased fines, when compared to the previous Streets Bylaw, the intention is not to initiate an increased ticketing drive. The aim is to adopt community policing techniques to engage and educate individuals in order to discourage the behaviour from happening in the first place. Ticketing will take place when other approaches to alter undesirable conduct fail to achieve their goal.
In forming the new bylaw, feedback in input was gathered from many different groups including: Transportation, Infrastructure, Lethbridge Police Services, Regulatory Services, downtown business owners, the City Solicitors Office, Regulatory Services and the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee. During these discussions, and at the request of LPS, a decision was made to separate provisions regulating undesirable public behaviour from the Streets Bylaw and to outline these community standards in a separate Public Places Bylaw. This group also reviewed the legislative provisions of many cities in Alberta and across western Canada.