Friday, February 14, 2014

City Council moves forward on Helmet By-Law

It has perhaps one of the most convoluted of names to be put to a civic bylaw,  a title that perhaps appeals only to true bureaucrats.

But what it lacks in a snappy moniker, it may make up in bite, as City Council serves notice that safety is key when it comes to skateboarders, long boarders and cyclists in the city.

As we offered up in our preview of Tuesday's Council session, the topic of the need for safety measures when it comes to the city's skateboarders, longboarders and cyclists has been a common theme at Council through the last year.

Tuesday night, Council finally put something on paper,  giving a first, second and third reading on the Non Motorized Wheeled Conveyance Helmet Bylaw, 3343-2014

Probably to soon be better known around town as the Helmet By-Law, and with its approval will come a rising scale of fines for offenders.

Upon adoption by Council, the breakdown on fines from the bylaw would see the assessment of a 35 dollar fine on the first offence, 70 dollar fine on the second offence and confiscation of the wheeled item on a third offence.

As it did through much of last year, the nature of the Bylaw brought about a fair amount of debate on Tuesday evening, with Councillor Garon standing alone against the idea of the city becoming baby-sitters for the youth of the community.

She was more in favour of some form of community work program to be put in place for offenders as opposed to a financial penalty, but she would stand alone on that theme, as Council took to the discussion on the By-law.

Such was her passion on the topic that she at the end of the debate, would be the only one on council to vote against the motion at hand.

Before it came to vote however there was a fair amount of tweaking to be done.

Councillor Cunningham outlined some of his thoughts on the By-law fine structure, suggesting an amendment to the by-law providing for a rebate on the first fine. The rebate to be provided to the offender, if the he or she comes back with a receipt for a purchased helmet.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson offered up support to Councillor Cunningham's rebate plan upon purchase of a helmet, expanding her thoughts that the City should find a way to seek out funding for those in the community that can't pay for helmets.

Councillor Ashley also agreed with Councillor Cunningham's thoughts, taking the discussions a bit further.

Suggesting that the money collected from the By-law fine be put into an account to pay for helmets for those that can't afford one.

She then outlined how the city needs to get the message out to parents and children in the community, that it's a safety issue and that helmets must be used.

Councillor Thorkelson also agreed with Councillor Cunningham's amendment and also shared the concerns regarding those that can't afford to purchase one.

She also suggested that the City follow up on some of the suggestions received from Constable Ericson of the RCMP at a recent meeting with Council, helping to put in place a Bike and Skateboard rodeo through the Civic Centre.

Councillor Thorkelson also revisited a frequent topic of hers when it comes to community need, suggesting that the City write the Port seeking a grant to buy helmets for youth that can't afford them.

To round out the discussion, Councillor Kinney also added a few of his thoughts on the theme before it went to a vote.

The By-law was given first, second and third readings, with Councillor Cunningham's fee waiver amendment in place. Councillor Garon cast the only vote agains the motion.

You can review the full discussion on the topic from the City's Video archive the motion is introduced and the debate kicks in at the thirty nine minute mark and runs until the fifty five minute mark.

We have more on Council Developments on our City Council Archive page and with our Discussion points from Council page.

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