Draft Nuisance Bylaw

March 6th, 2013

Oct 04   2012

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

We have reviewed the draft nuisance bylaw that you have recently referred to staff for completion, and we would like to take this opportunity to comment.

First, it is not clear to us that the provision with respect to nuisance parties is a subject congruent with provisions relating to “conduct affecting other persons” or “conduct affecting city property”, which we will refer to as “protests” for short. We believe it would make sense to divide the proposed bylaw into two separate bylaws, one for parties and one for protests.

With respect to nuisance parties, it would be prudent to insure that the bylaw is not so broadly worded that it prevents social gatherings such as wedding parties, neighbourhood block parties and other widely accepted gatherings.

With respect to protests, the early draft of the bylaw is very expansive in its coverage and certainly attempts to prohibit behaviour that is protected by the Charter of Rights. Even granting that permits might be issued for an action protected under the Charter, no Canadian should have to ask for a permit or permission to exercise a citizen’s rights. We would be very disappointed if the City attempted to adopt rules that repress basic rights.

The bylaw also includes a stunningly large maximum fine. The notion that one might be subject to a $10,000 fine for distributing handbills on the street (or other prohibited acts) is out of all proportion. A bylaw should have penalties that are commensurate with the act.

Finally, the bylaw envisions a system of permits. But there are no standards for the Executive Director to follow in determining whether or not to issue a permit. A lack of standards raises the spectre of someone granting or failing to grant a permit based upon entirely arbitrary and unjustifiable grounds. The bylaw should spell out under what circumstances a permit may be denied so that Executive Directors and their agents can act appropriately.

We look forward to seeing the staff report that brings back the “nuisance bylaw” to Council and will glad to comment on it in more detail when it is closer to its final form.

Very truly yours,

Norah Chaloner and Keith Bellairs, co-chairs

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