By Nikki Jamieson
Concern over mischief to the community pool may have the town start placing fines to discourage such acts.
During their regular April 20 meeting, Vauxhall town council met with Cst. Melanie Schefter of the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP, who was on hand to present the detailed April report for the town.
Mayor Margaret Plumtree was absent from the meeting.
In total, the RCMP detachment had responded to 167 calls for service throughout the month of March, with a big item being thefts.
“We’ve seen a big increase in recent months,” said Schefter.
“The thefts were the significant one that’s keeping us busy, and we’ve been doing some joint work with Lethbridge Police Service and other RCMP detachments around the Taber area, to work together and try to figure out who’s involved in these, because it kind of overlaps into their areas as well.
“So whats happening here isn’t just happening in Taber, they’re kind of travelling all around southern Alberta.”
Coun. Martin Kondor was wondering how legal LED lights in car grills are, adding that when they drive by you, “you can’t see anything”.
Schefter said that it was a Traffic Safety Act offense to use them on the highway.
“They’re not illegal to have them on your vehicle; they’re illegal to use on the highway. So if the lights are on and blinding people, they can’t actually have them on on the highway,” said Schefter.
“It’s nice to have when it’s dark and nobody’s around, so you can see for miles, but as soon as there’s other vehicles on the roadway, you have to shut that off. You’re not allowed to use them on the highway.”
Another item Kondor inquired about was pool security. People had been throwing rocks into it “again”, and have cut the pool’s liner, causing damage to the new community pool, which isn’t even a year old yet.
“Would it be effective to put a fine in there for anybody caught throwing anything in there, that we can fine them? Or just report it when you see anybody throwing anything in there, what’s the best way to deal with it?” asked Kondor. “Cause they’re usually 10 (years old) when I catch them… Cause you really can’t detain them, otherwise I’ll be up the creek.”
“We can talk to parents in those cases, but we can’t charge if they’re under 12,” said Schefter.
Adding she would look into it and extra security measures, Schefter added she wasn’t sure if they could build the fence surrounding the pool any higher to make it more difficult for people to throw things over it.
The town does have security cameras onsite, but the issue was because of their young age, the RCMP can’t lay charges.
“Can you fine the parent though or the ten-year-old?” said Kondor. “Are they liable?”
Schefter said that they can’t charge the parents of a child with a criminal offense for something the child did, but after inquiries from council, there was a “possibility” that if the town had a bylaw that said that, they could charge the parents under the bylaw section.
“For things like helmet tickets, if children aren’t wearing their helmets, the parents are responsible,” said Schefter.
“It would be a similar situation, where it’s a fine, and if there’s a bylaw in place, we could probably go through that bylaw.”
The town would need to draft a bylaw for that, but once the child in question is 12 or older, it would fall under the mischief section of the Criminal Code, and charges can be laid.
She did stress that if anyone sees it happening, to give the RCMP a call to let them know what’s happening, because even if they are younger then 12, they can keep track and link the activities in their files.
Schefter also informed council that as of May 15, 2017, helmet laws will also come into effect for ATVs under new legislation, much to council’s surprise.
“There hasn’t been a helmet law until now? Really?” said Kim Cawley, Vauxhall councillor. “Its crazy; there’s one for bicycles, there’s not one for (ATVs)?”
“Alberta is a little slow on that one,” said Schefter.
During public consultation last year, participants had indicated to the Alberta government that a helmet law for OHVs was needed.
Once in effect, the law would require anyone riding in, on, or being towed by an OHV on public land to wear a helmet. The fines will range from $93 — not wearing an approved helmet — to $155 — for failing to wear a helmet.
Head injuries have been cited as the majority of injuries OHV riders get, and between 2002-2013, in 77 per cent of serious head injuries riders received, they were not wearing a helmet.
However, one councillor doubted the province’s ability to enforce the law.
“That’s going to be impossible to enforce,” said Kondor. “Because the law-abiding citizens are going to have their helmets on, the other ones aren’t going to stop.”
Schefter pointed out that it’s no different than checking for registration and insurance, as you’re obligated to have it and fate penalties if you don’t have it. The only place the ATV helmet law won’t apply is on private property, and there may be exceptions for some farming activities.
But as of May 15, ATV users on public land will be required to wear a helmet.
The report contained a total of 18 calls — the same number as was reported in March 2016 — and are, as follows:
• One impaired driving/24 hour/30 day suspension
• One assault
• One theft
• Two mischiefs
• Five Criminal Code/other statutes
• Two 9-1-1 hangups
• Two checkstops
• Four administrative files
The traffic report contained 28 violation tickets issued — up from 13 the previous year — and are, as follows:
• One speeding
• Nine other moving
• Three seatbelt
• 15 non-moving