The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay is reinforcing its bylaw enforcement.
The existing bylaw officer’s shifts will be altered to include some evenings and weekend duties and a position for a second bylaw officer will be advertised soon, according to Marla Limousin, the community’s senior administrative officer.
On Aug. 18, a Cambridge Bay resident posted on social media that he was launching a petition for overnight bylaw patrols. There was an outpouring of support from fellow community members, who cited vandalism, theft, break-ins and reckless driving, among their concerns.
Although Mayor Pam Gross said the petition hadn’t yet made its way to council, and she wasn’t familiar with some of the specific incidents residents mentioned – she also doesn’t have any statistics from the police indicating that offences are increasing – she acknowledged that crime has a serious impact.
“It’s something the community tends to ask for. I know I’ve brought it up on council before when I was a councillor,” Gross said of the calls for a nighttime bylaw officer. “When vandalism starts it really affects everybody. Whether it be public property or personal property, people work hard to ensure we have things in our community and we want them to be kept around and not damaged or destroyed. I really think people do look out for each other… I think we do want, as a community, to have more of a sense of security.”
The community has a curfew but hasn’t had anyone enforcing it. Those under 16 are not supposed to be on the streets between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on school nights and between 1:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. on nights when there’s no school. The penalty, to be paid by parents or legal guardians, is a fine of $25 to $50 for a first offence and $50 to $100 for subsequent offences. Alternatively, a jail sentence of up to seven days is an option.
Gross added that, equally, it’s important for parents to make sure their children are not misbehaving.
The hamlet is also exploring the possibility of establishing a restorative justice committee.
“We highly respect our elders and we already go to them for guidance,” she said. “I know that they’d be happy to be contributors in our community in all forms, but this would be a great asset for them in terms of working with youth or community members that maybe need some extra guidance.”
Another change at the hamlet is the merging of wellness and recreation staff under the new Department of Healthy Living. The changes are being made to try to remove the stigma from the former department labelled “the Wellness Centre,” which may have led some people to assume that clients were somehow unwell, Gross explained.
She said the hamlet wants to ensure the new department has a well-rounded approach for a variety of age groups.
“It’s sort of like a wheel in the sense that when we’re well-balanced and have programs for recreation, the holistic approach to doing those things together creates a healthy person,” the mayor said.
With an interest in explaining these new approaches and gathering community feedback on these issues and others, the hamlet is planning to hold several community forums beginning in early November, Gross noted.
“It will be something like a town hall meeting,” she said. “We’ll have a moderator who will be coming to the community to work with us on that.”