Inuvik bylaw officers and RCMP will now be able to issue fines for spitting, loitering and public urination after a public behaviour bylaw passed unanimously at Town Council’s Feb. 26 meeting.

Councillors voted 6-0, with couns. Ray Solotki and Kurt Wainman absent, to give third and final reading to the bylaw.

“I see no problem passing such a bylaw as this,” said deputy mayor Steven Baryluk. “In my mind it’s setting minimal acceptable standards of public behaviour. It is not out to target any one group, it applies to everybody.

“I don’t think anyone in this town or any other town would agree that defecating in the streets is acceptable and right now we don’t really have a way to deal with that. This bylaw will get to that. Whether you are a homeless person, or person working in the IDC building or the deputy mayor, if you do some of these behaviours I think everybody will decide that socially it’s not acceptable.”

He added he had faith in the town’s enforcement officers to apply discretion to not be “militant.”

“I don’t have the same concerns that other people have expressed in the public and I think this is something that we need as a tool for our officers to deal with situations as they deem appropriate.”

Coun. Alana Mero, phoning in from home, asked if the town had looked at other jurisdictions in crafting the bylaw.

Municipal enforcement peace officer Matt Hogan told council the bylaw was based on the City of Calgary.

“There’s nothing established in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or the Yukon territory as far as my research,” he said. “This bylaw also gives RCMP another tool in their toolbox as well. This is not just for our peace officers with the town, this is something (the police) can use to deal with some of these behaviours without going to the Criminal Code of Canada approach.”

He added that once a ticketed individual is in the court system, they could have the potential to complete an alternate measures program, though he conceded he had only dealt with such a situation three times.

Senior administrative officer Grant Hood said he lived in Calgary during the time they enacted a similar bylaw.

He said the bylaw did not have a dramatic impact on life in the metropolis.

“For whatever reason everyone zeroed in on locals spitting,” he said. “Basically it became a non-issue. It was there for certain reasons, but there was the worry about if you’re in the ball diamond and stuff like that.

“We’re not out there to say you can’t do it, it’s just from a health awareness, where ever it could be it that’s out in public, to inhibit behaviour.”

Lydia Barduk, a 15-year outreach worker and two-time Yellowknife city councillor had previously told the Inuvik Drum the RCMP had attempted what the town is intending and ultimately abandoned the plan after it failed.

“There’s going to be a cost associated with it,” she said. “Bylaw officers will have to be in court for bylaw court so they won’t be out there doing bylaw stuff.”

She added piling fines onto people who don’t have income would simply make their situations worse, particularly the homeless population, who would likely end up in jail because couldn’t afford to pay a fine.

“They never be able to get a driver’s licence or renew it, because motor vehicles knows if you owe the state any money,” she said. “And look how many jobs require a driver’s licence. The unintended effects are really huge, and so is having to house someone in jail overnight. Here it’s something like $300 a day to keep an inmate, so you’re going to spend $300 to collect $200? That doesn’t make sense.”

The specified penalties are as follows:

Offence Fine
Fighting $250
Spitting $50
Loitering $75
Depositing litter on Town property
Failing to remove litter
Obstructing a Peace Officer

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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  1. Y’all be seeing me with a million dollar fine because I ain’t swallowing my own spit like it or not NO LAWS ARE MAKING ME STOP SPITTING.