If the Burns Lake RCMP gets its way, they will be given the power to issue municipal bylaw tickets in the future.
Two members of the Burns Lake RCMP, Const. Don Gunn and Corp. Terry Gillespie, were on hand at the Village of Burns Lake’s June 10 council meeting to let their opinions be known to council.
What the RCMP are looking for would be the ability to issue tickets when it comes to three areas, noise complaints, animal issues and parking tickets.
The most pressing issue for the RCMP, and the reason they’d like to be given this ability, are the noise complaints.
Currently, when RCMP respond to noise complaints, they’re allowed to issue a warning and tell the party goers to quite down.
Section 4.30 of the criminal code, entitled mischief, the RCMP is allowed to take action against anyone that is preventing the lawful enjoyment of someone else’s home, and remove what is preventing the lawful enjoyment.
For example, if a stereo is playing music too loudly, the RCMP may use mischief as a reason to seize that stereo.
However, a warrant would have to be written for that.
“The amount of time that would take is quite long that’s why we don’t exercise that too much,” Const. Gunn said, “the last thing we want to do is go to someone’s house and get into a fight to seize a stereo.”
The biggest concern for council on this issue is the enforcement on reserves.
Typically, if a noise ticket was issued, it would be issued to the owner of the home, who would either charge their renters for the invoice or pay the ticket.
If the ticket wasn’t paid after three years then the home could be repossessed and sold at auction.
In the case of the Burns Lake Band and the Lake Babine Nation, the residents not only do not own the home, they don’t own the property the house sits on, the band does.
“This is something that we as a government need to communicate with our local First Nations as part of our communication protocol in that adding to our bylaws and adjusting policies,” Mayor Luke Strimbold said.
Wilf Adam, chief of Lake Babine Nation said that the RCMP will “need authority from Lake Babine Nation leadership,” before proceeding.
Corporal Gillespie has experience is RCMP enforcing bylaw tickets.
Squamish recently began to allow its RCMP officers to issue bylaw tickets, and Gillispie said that allowing RCMP to issue tickets would have a lot of value.
“There are definitely reoccurring problems that we are dealing with constantly,” Corp. Gillespie said.
“It’s better than us just going there and wagging our fingers and going now, now, please be quiet, it’d be nice to have so teeth behind it where we could go the first time and go now, now, please be quiet and if we have to come back we can issue the $500 or what ever is decided.”
If council ends up passing a motion to allow RCMP to issue tickets there would be an appeals process, either done through arbitration, which was the option council seemed to favour in their discussions, or having it go through the provincial courts.
Even with the challenges associated with bylaw ticketing, interested and support was positive within council, but it was added continued support from the RCMP was important.
“The one thing we have to talk to the RCMP about is we have these two constables that are interested but they aren’t here permanently so we have to make sure we have continuous support,” Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake said.
A decision on this issue is well down the road.