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Parental responsibility added to Sundre's curfew rules

Sundre adopts amended Community Standards Bylaw that combines several existing documents including snow removal, excessive noise, and unsightly premises
Town of Sundre Coun. Owen Petersen said he was pleased to see a greater onus placed on parental responsibility in the municipality’s amended Community Standards Bylaw pertaining to a curfew for youths aged 13 and under. File photo/MVP Staff

SUNDRE – The municipality’s amalgamation of multiple bylaws that include a curfew for youths under the age of 14 is complete.

Known simply as the Community Standards Bylaw, it effectively combines into one single document previously separate regulations pertaining to matters including noise control, snow removal, unsightly premises as well as the curfew.

Originally considered by the bylaw and policy review committee in November 2023, the document was developed to address “the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property, and to regulate certain activities related to noise, nuisances, unsightly premises and snow removal within town limits.”

Linda Nelson, chief administrator officer, reminded council on March 25 during a regular meeting that the bylaw had received first reading in December before being tabled.

At the time, Coun. Owen Petersen sought to postpone approving the bylaw until the section pertaining to a curfew was further fleshed out.

Following further review per council’s direction, the committee has since then come up with a couple of additional recommendations, said Nelson.

“There were three definitions for bylaw officer, peace officer and RCMP officer, and we felt it would be more appropriate to use the term ‘officer’ and then define officer to include all three positions,” she said.

Nelson also outlined the proposed changes to Part 3, which pertains exclusively to the curfew.

Whereas the bylaw previously stated that “no child under the age of 14 shall be in a public place” in town limits between 12:01 a.m. and 5 a.m. “without proper adult guardianship or a legitimate excuse,” the recommended amendment was re-worded to place a greater onus on those responsible for the child.

“No parent or guardian shall allow a child under the age of 14 to be out in a public place within the corporate limits of the Town of Sundre after the hours of 12:01 a.m. and before 5 a.m. without proper adult guardianship or a legitimate excuse,” the revised section states.

Additionally, an entirely new part of the section was added to provide officers with a recourse for action at their discretion depending on a given situation.

Section 3.2 states that a child to whom the bylaw applies and is found by an officer to be in contravention of this bylaw may either be warned by the officer to return directly to their home or alternatively taken to their home by the officer, and/or delivered by the officer into the care of the child’s guardian.

Coun. Jaime Marr moved to approve the amended bylaw as presented.

“I think giving officers the authority to escort a youth back to their home gives them a little bit more teeth, and so I am appreciative that we were able to have that added,” said Marr.

Also speaking in favour of his colleague’s motion, Petersen expressed the opinion that administration had proposed an “appropriate curfew amendment.”

The councillor further went on to say that he wanted to “take this opportunity to speak to a larger conversation in our society that’s going on right now.

“When I spoke with previous councillors and mayors about the curfew and when it originally came in, they really were speaking something of parental responsibility; they wanted to kind of hold parents accountable to a certain extent with children,” he said.

“I really think that this is an appropriate way to do this. In our larger culture right now, we’re talking about parental rights a lot, which I think is the cart before the horse before we talk about parental responsibility. It is parents’ responsibility to house their children and keep them safe,” he said.

Additionally, he said the bylaw provides either the RCMP, bylaw or peace officers with options not previously outlined.

“This is a really small tool in our officers’ tool belt to be able to cultivate and encourage and foster the idea and the importance of parental responsibility, which I value,” he concluded.

Council proceeded to approve the bylaw unopposed.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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