New alarm bylaw introduced
Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 06:00 am
After eight years of a false alarm bylaw that has seen a single ticket written using its authority, Canmore council has voted unanimously to replace it with a better one it hopes will result in fewer false alarms taking up valuable RCMP and Fire-Rescue department time.
Manager of protective services Greg Burt presented the new bylaw to council at its March 7 meeting, at which council voted unanimously to approve all three readings.
Burt said the bylaw was being recommended for replacement after it was reviewed by the municipality and its contractors, RCMP, Canmore Fire-Rescue and the municipal Crown prosecutor.
“The main reason for the review truly was that the Fire-Rescue department started to actively enforce the bylaw in 2016 and we found the mandatory warning clause to be problematic,” he said.
The bylaw has been problematic to enforce, he explained, because it was written to provide alarm system owners with three warnings before a ticket can be issued. Keeping track of the warnings was a major issue for the RCMP, as they delete files after two years locally and, with two different agencies enforcing it, it was difficult to track and acknowledge when warnings were issued since the bylaw came into effect in 2009.
In fact, Burt could only point to a single ticket written last year by the Fire-Rescue department as the only time a violation and not a warning has been issued over the history of the bylaw.
Even without an enforceable bylaw, he presented information that false alarms are on the decline since 2012. In that year, Fire-Rescue responded to 399 false alarms compared to 297 in 2016. Similarly, the RCMP responded to 167 false alarms in 2012 and 116 in 2016.
“We have legislation that two mandatory warnings are required before writing a ticket and this is difficult from a prosecution perspective, because they need to prove the elements of the first two offences before ticketing,” Burt said.
The new bylaw would improve upon the old one, said Burt, as it would only provide an opportunity for a single warning before tickets are issued and clarifies language around definitions and clauses that needed rewording. The point of issuing a ticket for this type of offence is to address alarm system owners who regularly have false alarms that require the response of RCMP or the fire department – a response that has a cost to taxpayers to provide.
“The intent is to focus on education,” Burt said. “We do that through verbal warnings and written warnings and both departments have agreed under normal circumstances on one warning before a ticket is issued.”