City council will look at amendments to a proposed public places bylaw after discussion at a community safety standing committee.
The purpose of the bylaw is to “present a purpose built public spaces bylaw that clearly outlines expected behavior in public spaces and is easier to communicate to the public,” according to a city staff report.
“The reason why this bylaw is coming forward is that in the streets bylaw, the section was removed so we need a public spaces bylaw,” said Mike Fox, Director of Community Services. “We just expanded it so it covers parks and other public spaces for these activities where in the streets bylaw, we didn’t feel that was the right place to have that in there because it was only directed towards streets.”
The committee focused on two specific sections. The first, which the committee voted to remove is that a person shall not solicit charity in an aggressive manner in any public place if they are intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of illegal drugs; while soliciting charity. Coun. John Middleton-Hope made the motion to remove the section and it carried unanimously.
Middleton-Hope was also concerned about language in a section defining public harassment.
“We looked very carefully at sections one and two to think about the requirement for there to be a subjective feeling of being harassed and for that to be objectively reasonable in all the circumstances and that objective piece is really for the protection of people against misunderstanding,” said Brian Loewn, city solicitor.
The proposed bylaw adds additional offenses and increased fines, when compared to the current streets bylaw, but the city said the intention is not to initiate an increased ticketing drive. “The aim is to adopt community policing techniques to engage and This is in line with how Lethbridge Police Services approaches the more limited provisions in the current streets bylaw,” reads the staff report.
The bylaw will be presented to city council for further consideration.