Lacombe moves to end anti-social behaviour
Graffiti vandals face a $2,500 fine for a first offence under a proposed community standards bylaw in Lacombe.
If that doesn’t encourage them to change their tagging ways, the $5,000 fine for a second offence and $7,500 for third offences might.
City council got its first look at the new Community Standards (Anti-Social Behaviour) Bylaw on Monday. Supported by the Lacombe Police Service, the bylaw covers everything from rowdy and anti-social behaviour such as fighting, spitting, swearing and loitering in public to bullying and panhandling.
Mayor Steve Christie said the bylaw, which was given first reading, is all about providing more enforcement options.
“I think it just gives teeth to enforcement for our bylaw and our police service to actually have something to fall back on when they try to enforce things.”
The size of the fines for graffiti led to some debate. Council has asked for more information about how those numbers were reached and the rationale, said Christie.
The bylaw is expected to come back to council on Sept. 9.
In a report to council, police Chief Steve Murray said while various anti-social offences are covered under federal and provincial laws, they are not always the best option.
A frequent public complaint is the need to do something about youths roaming the city during early morning hours. Unless caught doing something illegal, there is little police can do.
Police have little doubt that some of those wandering about are up to no good because all of those arrested have been young people in connection with a rash of more than 200 vehicle thefts from vehicles over the past two years.
Graffiti is another common complaint. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the crime is considered at the lower end of seriousness and penalties tend to be light. A hefty fine will send a stronger message, police hope.
Fighting, swearing and making noise are often booze-fuelled crimes where laying criminal charges ties up police and leads to a lengthy court process. While police will lay Criminal Code charges whenever injury occurs, fines are a better option in many cases.
Likewise, loitering and panhandling fines are a simple way to deal with complaints along those lines.