Blackfalds bylaw includes bullying provisions

Blackfalds town council has approved an amendment to a bylaw that handles bullying.

Blackfalds town council has approved an amendment to a bylaw that handles bullying.

The Community Standards Bylaw, which includes sections on not only bullying but also loitering, curfews and graffiti, was reviewed by administration, bylaw enforcement, community services and planning and development.

They found the bylaw contained a conflicting clause.

The bylaw states that youth who were first-time offenders when it came to bullying would be fined $125. Adults who were first-time offenders would be fined $500.

However, the bylaw also states the fine could be waived if the offender successfully completes an anti-bullying educational program offered by the town.

This clause only applies to first-time offenders — both youth and adult.

The amendment removes this clause, offering no alternative to the fine.

“This is not about taking the focus off of the seriousness of bullying,” said Corinne Newman, town chief administrative officer.

“The bylaw expected an anti-bullying program to be in place but we cannot guarantee such a program is in place all the time . . . As such, the best thing is not to have that in the bylaw.”

The town accesses anti-bullying programs from other areas such as Lacombe, said Newman, but they are not always available.

That meant that if the program wasn’t available, and offenders opted for this alternative, there was nothing being done and the incident would go unaccounted for with neither fine nor program.

It’s been an issue in the past, said Newman, with people just walking off free.

The amendment would rectify that.

Council voted last week to accept the first reading of the amendment. It will be finalized after a public hearing sometime in July.

The Community Standard Bylaw has been in place since 2009.