Campbell River is looking to give bylaw enforcement officers the ability to give out tickets for public consumption of alcohol in an attempt to make its downtown core a more pleasant place to be.
The city is in the process of amending its the Public Nuisance and Ticketing bylaws, meaning the changes could go into effect as early as the end of April.
While the city currently has a bylaw in place surrounding the consumption of alcohol in public parks, it has no provision to issue tickets to people drinking in public anywhere else, although the RCMP has the ability.
The idea initially met with some resistance from city councillors.
“I don’t understand what this is going to do,” Kermit Dahl said. “Right now, if I go down to Spirit Square and start drinking a case of beer, the RCMP can come over and give me a ticket, take it away and charge me. What will change if we have this bylaw?”
But director of planning Peter Wipper, said the gives the city a mechanism to “Red Zone” prolific offenders to keep them out of the area or face arrest.
“With some individuals, it probably won’t make a heck of a difference,” Wipper says, “but if their tickets mount up, you can take them to civic court and say, ‘we’re not getting compliance here, and we believe that this individual’s behaviour needs to change or he or she needs to not be permitted in this downtown area.’
Wipper says the strategy has worked well in other communities.
“They’ve found that these zones break the behaviour pattern. No longer are they associating with the same individuals on a daily basis, and that helps them. Calls for service for these individuals actually goes down. That’s the theory and philosophy behind it.”
The proposed fine for contravention of the bylaw is $200. The changes could go into effect as early as the end of April.