Discretion, like politeness, should be at heart of bylaw enforcement

The era of good behaviour is upon us everywhere — first Red Deer, then Sylvan Lake and now the Red Deer River.

The era of good behaviour is upon us everywhere — first Red Deer, then Sylvan Lake and now the Red Deer River.

A little politeness, niceness and observance of rule is usually a good thing, but sometimes good behaviour enforcement can be a little over the top.

Sylvan Lake will get its first really big test of its new good behaviour bylaw this long weekend when hot weather, cold drinks and the summer party mentality are set to come together in a perfect rhythm — or storm — depending on one’s viewpoint.

Too many cold drinks, too much sun, too little access to public washrooms and music not nearly loud enough, will no doubt keep Sylvan cops rolling on their Segways handing out tickets to the non-observant.

The Sylvan bylaw, which only came into affect only a couple months ago, didn’t get a big run on July 1 because it fell in the middle of the week this year, much to the relief of many residents and law enforcers.

Sylvan has a permanent population of more than 11,000. When summertime hits, on a good day that number can triple.

Police handed out only a handful of $500 tickets to people fighting or taking a whiz in the wrong place.

Under the bylaw, poorly mannered people can also be awarded tickets for other behaviours, such as spitting or graffiti.

Until the last week or so, the lousy summer weather has had a calming affect on the disobedient-prone. Police will be the first to tell you, the hotter it is, the dumber some people get.

Now comes the August long weekend, likely going to be the biggest of the year for Sylvan, Central Alberta’s tourist mecca. The promise of good weather will lure many there to get it on.

But this year, if the party animals, aka yahoos misbehave, they’ll feel more, by way of the pocketbook rather than the cold hard concrete floor of the dry-out tank.

Red Deer brought in its community standards bylaw about 18 months ago, and of course all 90,000 citizens have been on their best behaviour since. Mind you, these 30C temperatures has caused some normally good people to almost test that bylaw, no names mentioned.

Good behaviour in Red Deer was noticed most recently during CentreFest on Saturday. Despite the heat, hundreds of people, especially families with children, enjoyed the light and good humour of street entertainers.

The public laughed and participated, and not one misbehaviour was seen, except for a noisy little girl who simply needed a nap.

Who doesn’t in this heat?

Good behaviour, of course, is to be lauded. But sometimes we go overboard.

On Saturday while going over the 49th Avenue bridge, I observed the Red Deer River surface almost entirely covered in brightly coloured inflated plastics, carrying along at inchworm pace. It was possibly a record number of river rafters. It wasn’t exactly a crime scene.

If you’re from Red Deer, you’ve done the river. Generations have floated the river. Now people from “the big city” are coming here, too, to enjoy the relaxing ride with a fantastic view.

This summer, good behaviour authorities have started clamping down on everyone using the river because some people are parking where they shouldn’t or being a bit too rowdy. For the most part, though, people have been of good behaviour, without heavy-handed enforcement.

Now officers of the law stand on the shoreline, confiscating alcohol, and handing out tickets to everyone and anyone.

I’m all for good behaviour but I can’t see how a few drinks as you float the river is a big deal. Certainly if people are coming off the river slam drunk, they should step in.

But two people on a raft in the river with a six-pack, what’s the big deal?

Let’s lighten up a little. It’s summer.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant editor. She can be reached by email at barr@bprda.wpengine.come or by phone at 403-314-4332.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Officials tour Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and local MLAs visit construction site

Bike thefts becoming ‘significant problem’ in Red Deer

Residents are sounding the alarm on the growing problem of bike theft… Continue reading

Red Deer approves 10 cannabis retail stores

Locations approved around the city

One trillion litres of sewage leaked into lakes and rivers over last five years

OTTAWA — Last Wednesday, a team of people from the Lake Ontario… Continue reading

Woman bitten at Red Deer dog park

Dog owners reminded to control their pets

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month