RCMP enforce curfew bylaw

by Phil Ambroziak

The City of Meadow Lake may have a new bylaw enforcement officer on the payroll, but it will still be up to the RCMP when it comes to keeping kids off the streets past curfew.

Following the recent hiring of enforcement officer Frank Richardson, a handful of Meadow Lake residents took to social media to discuss the city’s curfew bylaw and to enquire as to whether or not Richardson would play a role in its enforcement.

According to Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal, however, this won’t be the case.

“That’s not the direction we’ve given him,” Vidal said. “The bylaw states children under the age of 16 need to be off the streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., but those are not normal hours for him. It’s important to remember Frank was hired to fill a part-time role.”

While recent reports did indicate Richardson’s focus would be primarily on municipal bylaws opposed to provincial matters – as was the case with his predecessor – Vidal said it’s not the responsibility of a city employee to patrol the streets so late, stating it’s the police’s job to enforce the curfew.

“Every year we realize there is an increase in incidents involving young people, but we also continue to have conversations with the RCMP – they know we want them to have a strong presence throughout the community and they certainly do,” the mayor added. “That, in turn, will continue to result in fewer issues. By all indications, the police have taken our concerns seriously.”

Vidal went on to say he is unaware of any major incidents involving young people to have occurred after dark so far this spring, but admitted things do tend to “pick up” again with the arrival of warm weather.

This was confirmed by Meadow Lake RCMP Cpl. Rob Fines who said the presence of young people on the streets – whether they’re involved in a crime or simply minding their own business – is definitely a seasonal matter.

“We have seen an increase again in the number of vehicles being rummaged through at night, but that’s why we always remind people to keep their vehicles locked and their valuables out of sight,” Fines said.
As for the bylaw itself, Fines said it’s nice to have it in place when the need arises, but said it isn’t always enforced.

“A lot of time discretion is used depending on the circumstances,” he said. “It all depends on what the kids are up to and what’s going on.”

In most cases, the children are escorted home by police. Charges, Fines added, are never laid very often.
“Again, discretion is used,” he noted. “Our main concern is getting the kids off the street and back home with their parents.”

Vidal agreed.

“So far I believe the RCMP have done a great job and I’m sure they’ll up the ante if need be,” Vidal said.
Comments made in the aforementioned online discussion included one from Kimberly Durant who believes the bylaw should be thoroughly enforced.

“Maybe then people wont have to worry about things being outside in their own yards,” she wrote. “Stuff is getting downright ridiculous around here. I cant even leave a bike locked up outside in my own yard.”

Meanwhile, James Laliberte stated it should be up to parents to enforce their own curfew.

“Just because there is a bylaw does not mean the children have to be home right at 11 p.m.,” he noted. “They should be at home enjoying family time. Parents should be parents and not let their children run them.”

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