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Town council works toward new Community Standards Bylaw

Topics from curfew to snow removal, and derelict vehicles are included in the Town of St. Paul's draft Community Standards Bylaw.
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ST. PAUL - A draft of Bylaw 2022-09, the Town of St. Paul's Community Standards Bylaw, was review during the Aug. 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, with a variety of topics being discussed - from derelict vehicles, to snow removal, and back alley addressing.

The bylaw is being put together "for the purpose of regulating the conduct and activities of people in public spaces and on privately owned property and immediately adjacent areas."

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) allows a municipality to pass bylaws that speak to the safety, health and welfare of people, and the protection of property. The MGA also allows for bylaws that relate to nuisances, such as unsightly properties.

The bylaw includes a list of "public behaviours" that the public is expected avoid doing, such as littering in public places, urination or defection in public places, performing dangerous activities that would include throwing or propelling an object, or any action that is "reasonably likely to cause injury to another person or damage to property."

Fighting is also prohibited, unless it is part of an organized sporting event that is governed by the rules of conduct of that sport. The last activity listed under "public behaviours" is panhandling, which is also prohibited.

Curfew

Item 4.6 of the bylaw speaks to a curfew, which is directed to children. "A child shall not be in a public place between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. of any day unless accompanied by a parent or guardian," reads the draft bylaw.

If a child is found to be in contravention of, "a peace officer may order the child to go directly to the child's home," reads the draft bylaw. If after a warning the child is found in a public place, they can be detained at the location until a parent or guardian arrives, or the officer can deliver the child to the child's home and into the custody of the parent or guardian. 

Property maintenance

A large section of the bylaw also deals with property maintenance. 

"A person shall not cause or permit a nuisance to exist on land they own or occupy," according to the draft bylaw, which further stating, "For the purpose of greater certainty, a nuisance, in respect of land, means land that shows sign of a serious disregard for general maintenance and upkeep, whether or not it is detrimental to the surrounding area."

The bylaw goes on to list a number of examples of nuisances, such as "excessive accumulation of material including but not limited to building materials, appliances, household goods, boxes, tires, vehicle parts, whether of any apparent value or not," and "grass or weeds higher than 10 cm."

Sidewalk maintenance is also discussed in the draft bylaw, along with the flow of water, fire hazards, fireworks, noise control, the placement of signs and displays, and enforcement of the rules.

A schedule of monetary fines is also attached to the draft bylaw as Schedule A.

Discussion

While the presentation during the Committee of the Whole meeting by Director of Municipal Enforcement Trevor Kotowich was for information gathering purposes, some discussion with council did take place.

Mayor Maureen Miller noted that the bylaw is meant built around being a "good neighbour." 

Kotowich noted that he is understanding that some people are on hard times, and the department aims to work with residents when infractions and complaints arise. Some residents take "great pride" in the yard, he noted, while other residents need to be reminded.

He also stated the nines time out of 10, there is no longer an issue once a conversation takes place with a resident where a complaint may have been made. Kotowich also noted that the issues of biggest concern are always the ones where there is a safety issue.

Town staff have sympathy and compassion, but they also need to know people are residing in safety.

Back alley addressing also came up during discussions with council, and Kotowich said it would be beneficial to have residences' addresses in the back alleys for emergency purposes. Sometimes, emergency services access homes from the back, due to easier access, for example.

"It's just food for thought," said Kotowich. Miller added that back alley addressing could also be useful for some garbage pick-up.

Another discussion that took place was around noise created following a snowfall during night-time hours when contractors are clearing the snow. Often, contractors need to clear the snow during the quiet times. 

Kotowich's concern was that snow needs to be removed during quieter times at certain government-run facilities, such as the hospital, courthouse, schools and the Provincial building, due to there being fewer staff on site. 

Councillors and administration expressed support for allowing snow removal to occur at night, around specific buildings. 

No motions were carried regarding the draft bylaw.



Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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