By Nikki Jamieson
With the incident in Hays earlier this month, water safety and enforcement was on everyone’s mind during the last Municipal District of Taber council meeting.
During their regular July 12 meeting, the M.D. of Taber council received the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP Detail report for June, during which boat training was brought up.
The department had another officer trained on running the jet boat last month. That makes four trained on the prop boat and three trained on the jet boat, and officers must be trained to use the prop boat before they learn how to operate the jet boat. The department has both boats available for their use, and although the prop boat was scheduled to leave the department, they were told they could keep it until it breaks down. Additionally, there is a reservist from Calgary who comes around to help patrol the lakes.
However, council was informed that while the RCMP may patrol the lakes, they are not involved in the policing of mussels.
“That’s strictly Environment and Conservation doing that,” said Sgt. Kevin McKenna, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP. “It’s not federal, some of it is provincial. There is an Invasive Species Act, and it’s under the Fisheries Act.”
Anyone crossing into Alberta by boat must have it inspected by Environment and Conservation personnel. This year, white signs have been posted informing boat owners of the mandatory stops, and driving by the sign is failing to obey a traffic control device, and they will turn you around for inspection and fine you for the offence.
“It’s worded quite carefully too. It says, ‘Mandatory Boat Inspection’. That’s everything. That’s kayaks, that’s everything that goes in the water, canoes, everything,” said McKenna.
“That’s going to be a very big program for the Conservation people.”
M.D. councillor Duff Dunsmore then raised the issue of beer. Earlier this month, Enchant had a ball tournament, and some RCMP officers began going to the dugouts and had everyone pour out their beer.
“I understand that that’s the law in a public place, but I want you to be aware that it is causing us issues,” said Dunsmore. “Because it gets them all fired up and worked up. And then they leave there and go back to their camps, and then they’re fighting, that kind of stuff basically.”
Although he stressed that he only wanted the RCMP to be aware of the problem, the campground operator was having trouble handling the disgruntled campers, who were angry about having to throw out their drink and being ticketed for it, and they began causing problems, leading to the operator and security issuing warnings or asking them to leave.
“We either enforce it or we turn a blind eye, which we shouldn’t be doing,” said McKenna.
“(The campground operator) might want to take zero tolerance on that. Because once they pay rent, and they have their trailer or tent there, that’s their residence. It’s not against the law to be drunk at their residence.”
Dunsmore stressed that the majority of campers were well behaved, and it wasn’t the drinking that they had a problem with, adding that he understood the RCMP’s position and that he just wanted to let them know of the issue.
But, as the RCMP gets requested to have a presence at an event if there might be drinking, they often enforce the drinking, with Reeve Brian Brewin replying, “The law is the law.” However, McKenna did agree to a request to potentially send a officer up there to talk about drinking enforcement.
“If we ever announced or print that we’re not coming up to write tickets, just going to give warnings, you’re just inviting a free for all,” said McKenna.
According to the report, calls were down 148 compared to 195 in June 2015.
They were, as follows:
• Two impaired driving/24 hour/30 day suspensions
• Three assaults
• One break and enter
• Six thefts
• 23 other Criminal Code/other statutes
• 11 assists to police/other agencies
• 19 9-1-1 hangups
• Six false alarms
• One abandoned vehicle
• Three animal calls
• Five suspicious persons/vehicles
• One lost and found property
• Two Firearms Act violations
• Three check-stops
• 17 traffic complaints
• 13 traffic collisions (12 reportable, one injury)
• 12 by-law complaints
• 12 admin files
While total calls may be down, traffic tickets more then doubled, up 136 compared to 66 the previous year. They were, as follows;
• 55 speeding
• Two intersection
• 13 other moving
• 16 seatbelt
• 39 non-moving
• 11 other Provincial Acts/statutes
Additionally, officers performed 22 park patrols (nine in M.D. of Taber Park; 10 in Enchant Park; two in The Forks; one in Grassy Lake Park), although McKenna suspects that number may be misleading.
“Some of these guys, they’re missing writing these down. I suspect the number might be higher then this,” said McKenna.