The Town of Sylvan Lake is flexing its bylaw muscle to protect the park system.
A Parks and Open Spaces Bylaw was passed by town council on Monday that puts regulations in place to preserve parks from damage, protect pedestrians and provide penalties for those who break the rules.
The town decided to take action because of the number of people who were driving their vehicles through parks to reach their backyards to haul in landscaping supplies or other loads.
“They were just going through our parks, backing up to their back fence, doing their thing and then driving back out through our parks again,” said Ron Lebsack, the town’s director of recreation, parks and culture, on Wednesday.
The new bylaw is designed to regulate access, not prohibit it.
“We’re not eliminating the use of them, or the accessibility there,” said Lebsack. “We just want to provide a permit for it. So we know if there is damage there, that person will be responsible for fixing the damage.”
A permit system is now in place for residents or contractors who want to use parks as an access route. Sites will be inspected before and after and permit holders will be responsible for ensuring it is left in good condition.
The bylaw includes a range of regulations, covering everything campfires and public gatherings to wildlife protection and public property damage.
Lebsack said the bylaw gives the town another way to deal with situations where minor damage is caused by people tying volleyball nets to trees and other similar types of seasonal issues.
To keep a lid on late-night park parties, public gatherings are prohibited in parks after 11 p.m. and before 7 a.m. without town permission.
Those who want to hold a special event must apply for a permit a month prior.
The bylaw restricts camping on town land or operating any kind of motor vehicle in a park without a valid permit. It also says people can’t damage trees or structures, interfere with wildlife or dump waste in parks.
It is also against the rules to sell any foods, refreshments or other goods in town parks or to offer services at a charge.
Peace officers have a right to evict anyone who is a danger to themselves or others or is causing a disturbance in parks.
A first offence carries a $100 fine. That goes up to $200 on a second offence and $250 for third and subsequent offences.
Depending on the type of offence, people may also be required to pay the cost of repairing and restoring any damage.