Canada Day revellers who bucked the rules felt the financial pain as RCMP handed out more than 50 liquor-related tickets and about half a dozen other tickets under the town’s new community standards bylaw over the last couple of days.
Four brawlers were left $500 poorer after picking up tickets for fighting in a public place, said Sgt. Duncan Babchuk on Thursday. A couple of other ill-behaved individuals were dinged $500 for urinating in public.
About 20 celebrants — all but one visiting from outside town — landed in RCMP cells for various infractions.
“This is just the start,” said Babchuk, who said his officers reported “wall-to-wall” crowds on Wednesday. Since Canada Day fell in the middle of the week, the traditional long weekend crowds may be stretched out over the next four or five days this year.
“Over the last four years, we’ve had in the neighbourhood of 200 prisoners over the long weekend in July,” he said.
RCMP are waiting to see if this weekend will generate the kinds of crowds seen in the past. Police are ready, with up to 10 additional officers backing up the town’s 15 constables. Some of the extra help will be used to keep an eye on the Benalto Rodeo, which goes this weekend and has occasionally attracted a few trouble makers in the past.
“The weather has everything to do with how busy we are.”
Babchuk said while there has been a lot of attention given the new community standards bylaw, it was pretty much “business as usual” for his officers.
The bylaw is expected to prove effective over the coming months. The section on fighting may prove particularly useful. Those caught fighting in a public place face a $500 fine on first offence, $750 the next time, and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offences.
“You know what, I don’t think there are too many people who can afford $500 a weekend. I think it’s effective,” he said.
The bylaw was modelled on one adopted last year in Red Deer. Officers who have moved to the Sylvan Lake detachment from the city brought good reviews of the bylaw, he said.
Sylvan’s bylaw was passed in June and covers spitting, urinating in public and causing various disturbances. It also tackles the issue of bullying, with youngsters facing a fine of $125 for a first-time offence and adults facing $500 for a similar offence.
Graffiti tops the fine category with a $2,500 fine for a first-time offence, $5,000 for a second offence and up to $7,500 for a third or subsequent offences within a year.