Sylvan Lake bylaw will penalize such behaviour as fighting, swearing and spitting

Rowdies heading to Sylvan Lake could pay a steep price for unruly behaviour this summer.

Rowdies heading to Sylvan Lake could pay a steep price for unruly behaviour this summer.

The town expects to have a new community standards bylaw in place next month to help peace officers deal with trouble makers.

Fighting in public could cost belligerents a $500 fine for a first-time offenders. Second-time offenders face a $750 hit, and repeat offenders will have to cough up $1,000 if they get dinged with a ticket.

Dennis Krill, the town’s protective services director, said Wednesday the bylaw is modelled on one which came into effect in Red Deer in March 2008, partly as a response to problems stemming from downtown bars.

Sylvan Lake has faced similar challenges during the summer months when the bars along Lakeshore Drive attract large crowds to the downtown where they tend to congregate into the early hours.

“(The bylaw) is a really good tool for enforcement. It’s a quick tool.”

Some of the offences in the bylaw are covered by existing laws, but involve more complicated prosecutions involving court appearances.

“This one involves a ticket with a fine on it,” he said. Krill expects that those who do find themselves on the wrong end of the law will also prefer a ticket to facing a judge.

The bylaw covers the usual offences, such as spitting, swearing or urinating in public, and causing various disturbances.

But it also tackles another issue that has become the focus of more attention in communities — bullying. Youngsters caught bullying could be slapped with a $125 fine on first offence, and double that for subsequent offences. Adult fines are $500 and $1,000.

Bullying does not have to be face-to-face. The bylaw also covers bullying through e-mails or other on-line forums.

The town also makes it clear that graffiti will not be tolerated.

Taggers caught in the act could be on the hook for a $2,500 fine. That increases to $5,000 the next time and $7,500 for further offences.

“We don’t necessarily have a problem with (graffiti), but we don’t want a problem with it,” he said. The town will also get tough with people who don’t clean up unsightly properties.

Sylvan Lake was hoping to have its bylaw in place by the May long weekend, but council wanted a couple of minor changes and held off third reading. It is expected to come to the June 8 meeting for final approval.

As it turned out, the long weekend was relatively problem free, said Krill. But he expects the bylaw will show its worth in the future.

Besides Red Deer, similar bylaws were adopted by Calgary and Edmonton to cope with the enforcement challenges created during past Stanley Cup runs, when high-spirited hockey fans took to the streets and a few people got carried away.

“(The bylaws) were very successful in both those areas and they were kept,” he said.

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