Red Deer RCMP will now be able to tell youth to go home one hour earlier after a new nighttime curfew was approved on Monday.
City council approved changes to Red Deer’s curfew so that anyone 15 years old and younger must be at home between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. instead of the current 1-6 a.m.
During curfew time, young people must be at home or, if out in the community, they must be in the company of a parent or guardian. Exceptions include youth who are working, volunteering or returning from an organized sporting event.
The curfew times were also added on Monday into the Community Standards bylaw, which also includes new rules for panhandling.
Violators of the curfew could face $125 for a first offence, $250 for a second offence and $500 for a third and subsequent offence.
Administration told council that very few young people have been ticketed in the past for breaking curfew, but it is seen as an effective tool for police when they see young people out on the street late at night.
“Police will use it as a way to let them know that they have to go home,” added city solicitor Michelle Baer.
Councillor Tara Veer doesn’t believe residents will see a huge change with this one-hour difference in the curfew.
“But it provides RCMP the tools to stop teens, particularly between (the ages of ) 12 and 16 where we see the most issues,” Veer said. “They can ask them what they’re doing on the street and encourage them to move along, or in some instances help them move along and get them home safely.”
Changing the curfew has been in the works for more than a year.
In 2009, the Northwood Estates Neighbourhood Watch committee collected 651 signatures in favour of a 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. The committee was created after two families felt so terrorized by roving youths that they felt like they had to move from the mobile home park.
The city’s Crime Prevention Advisory Committee then researched the idea, recommending to city council in April 2010 that the curfew hours change to 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. The committee wanted to give young people enough time to catch the last bus and walk home without breaking curfew.
Due to the complexity of the issue and due to research of other curfew bylaws across Canada, administration didn’t bring forward a recommendation until now.
TerryLee Ropchan, chairwoman of the advisory committee, said the new curfew will still make it easy for youth to get home on time.
“But hopefully, it will keep them off the street when they might be in danger,” she said.