More than 600 people are pressing the City of Red Deer to make its curfew two hours earlier to help curb young troublemakers and keep youth in general safe.
The Northwood Estates Neighbourhood Watch Committee’s petition of 651 signatures is requesting the curfew bylaw be changed so that youth under 16 are forbidden from public places between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The current bylaw states no child shall be in a public place between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent of guardian. Exceptions include youth who are working, volunteering or returning from an organized sporting event.
The existing bylaw fines convicted violators $50 for a first offence, $100 for a second one.
“Youth violence and vandalism is a major issue in our area as well as the rest of the City of Red Deer,” writes committee co-chair Crystal Smith to city staff. “We feel that 1 a.m. is not an appropriate curfew time for children under 16.”
The committee says the change will allow the RCMP to better deal with youth and gang issues.
“This curfew will increase the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property,” says Smith.
The petition originated in Northwood Estates, a mobile home park where some residents reported being terrorized by neighbourhood youth last year. Two families reported having a light shot out by a BB gun, bottles thrown at their windows, and on occasion received personal threats of violence. The young people later denied the accusations.
Smith said residents from all over Red Deer signed the petition.
“This full community support shows that residents from all over our city have the same concerns about our youth being out so late at nigh,” she said.
A total of 735 signatures were collected, 84 of which came from outside Red Deer.
For the petition to be considered valid under the Municipal Government Act, at least 10 per cent of the city’s population must sign or about 9,000 signatures. The petition was hand-delivered to City Hall on Wednesday.
Elaine Vincent, Legislative and Administrative services manager, said administration will review the petition over the next couple of weeks and develop options for council to consider.
Council may receive the report for information in late July and the Northwood group could speak at that time.
TerryLee Ropchan, president of the Red Deer Neighbourhood Watch Association, wrote to the city in support of the petition.
Residents aren’t just concerned about youth getting into trouble, but that they may be exposed to risky situations and circumstances, she said.
Ropchan also said the earlier curfew gives “the RCMP one more tool in their belt when they are dealing with situations where under-16-year-old youth are involved late at night.”