Did we honestly need another bylaw?

Editor’s note: The column published in the print edition of South Peace News did not clearly identify the conversation had with the HP RCMP Staff Sergeant was several years ago, not with the current Staff Sergeant.

I covered court for many years. One day, I saw a charge on the High Prairie youth court docket I knew existed but never read: a minor smoking in public. The youth appeared and pleaded guilty to the charge.

A few days later I ran in the local RCMP staff sergeant outside the South Peace News office and commented how surprised I was such a charge was actually laid.

The staff sergeant responded with something like this:

“The RCMP is concerned about youth smoking. We know it’s bad for you. We will make every effort to keep our youth healthy.”

Blah, blah, blah!

I looked at him and said, “C’mon, the only reason the officer gave that ticket was because the rotten little [bleep, bleep, bleep] gave him attitude.”

The staff sergeant laughed and admitted it was the sole reason the youth received this ticket. The boy was asked by police to put out his cigarette and he gave them attitude.

The point to all this? The charge and subsequent ticket is a tool police can use.

March 26, High Prairie town council passed the following bylaw: “No person shall allow a waste receptacle to remain on municipal property [roadway, boulevard, alleyway or sidewalk] for more than 24 hours following pickup day. Commencing at 7 p.m. the following day of pickup enforcement can take place.”

You can be fined $100.

The reasons for this bylaw? Problems have arisen with people leaving the receptacles on the street.

“Since that time a problem has arisen with residents not removing the receptacles in a timely fashion,” reads a report from town peace officers. “This problem is unsightly and could create a hazard for drivers.”

Town public works crews also have to drive around them during snow removal.

Personally, I love the new receptacles. It has cut down on trash blowing in the streets by almost 100 per cent. As town CAO Brian Martinson adds, there are fewer ravens in town tearing at garbage bags and creating a mess, plus dogs, cats, coyotes, and foxes can no longer get an easy free meal.

There may be problems arising from the receptacles. I have been told it is difficult for elderly people to wheel them to the curb. If that is the case and you are a neighbour, please help.

The question on the street is whether the bylaw is necessary. Who will enforce it? Do we really want to pay peace officers wages to enforce such a bylaw?

High Prairie citizens need to be reminded if their receptacle is damaged, the bill for new one is sent straight to you. It cannot be stated enough it is in your best interest to get the receptacles wheeled back onto your property as soon as possible.

I do have to ask this question. What is the difference in having your receptacle on the street one day late or one day early? Isn’t a receptacle “unsightly” whether it is on the street one day early or one day late?

Nonetheless, this bylaw is nothing to get too excited about. The chances of it being enforced on a regular basis are next to nil. Peace officers have much better duties to attend to.

It brings me back full circle to my story of the youth smoking a cigarette. This bylaw is only a tool to encourage citizens to wheel their receptacle back to their property. To say it’s anything more than that would be stretching it.

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