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Proposed public behaviour bylaw in Hay River passes first and second reading

A proposed bylaw by Hay River town council is in the works that could see several instances of bad behaviour become punished more severely.
Hay River town council has given first and second reading to a proposed public behaviour bylaw that, if passed, would see people found guilty of an offence punished by up to a $2,000 fine or six months in jail. NNSL file photo

A proposed bylaw by Hay River town council is in the works that could see several instances of bad behaviour become punished more severely.

Council passed first and second readings of Bylaw No. 2455, the ‘Public Behaviour Bylaw’ during its regular meeting on July 25. Among other rules, the bylaw would make it an offence to ‘loiter’, ‘litter’ or ‘spit on any street, sidewalk, pathway, trail, or in any public place’.

The bylaw would also prohibit physical fights, defecating and urinating in public and public intoxication stating ‘No person shall be intoxicated while in a public place’ or on private property if the owner has not given permission.

“With the exception of littering, which is also defined within the town’s Solid Waste Management Bylaw, behaviours included in the new bylaw were not previously defined and thus enforceable by the municipality,” said Glenn Smith, the town’s senior adminstrative officer. “The bylaw would give town staff, including our Protective Services Specialist, the authority to enforce (the bylaw).”

Any person convicted of an offence under the proposed bylaw could face up to a $2,000 fine or up to a six-month jail sentence.

The committee, which is made up of members of town council, town administration, Hay River RCMP, Diamond Jenness Secondary School, Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre and Hay River Metis Government Council, was formed last year in response to an incfease in drug-related crime.

While bylaw enforcement officers would be responsible for issuing tickets for offences, Smith said the RCMP would get involved should the situation call for it.

“The RCMP, through their inclusion on the (committee), recommended the bylaw as a tool to support their enforcement of behaviours such as loitering,” he said.

There was some pushback on the proposed bylaw from some who commented on the town’s Facebook page, such as Beatrice Lepine.

She wrote that it was a “horrific response from a Committee labeled a Social Issues Committee to ongoing addictions issues in our community.”

Edna Lafferty was another commenter; she said the town should be concerned about housing first instesd of telling people to stay home when they don’t hav a home to stay in.

The town is asking residents to take a look at the proposal and provide feedback by either contacting a member of the committee or e-mailing the town directly. If the proposal passes third reading, it would officially become a bylaw.