MRC proposes changes to municipal bylaws

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Bonnie James
Local Journalism Initiative

MRC PONTIAC – The Council of Mayors moved to recommend the adoption of proposed changes to six municipal bylaws at the June MRC meeting. The bylaws fall under the category of those enforced by the Sûreté du Québec. Most of the affected bylaws have not been updated since 2011, and in some cases since 2009. The proposed changes would increase fines for infractions, more than doubling the current fine for certain violations. The updated bylaws will need to be approved by each municipal council prior to coming into effect.

Parking

Parking tickets would increase from the current minimum of $30 to a minimum of $100 with a higher fine for parking in a designated handicap space.

Safety, peace, and order in public areas

According to MRC Fire and Public Safety Coordinator, Julien Gagnon, a new prohibition on calling 911 without reasonable cause is one of the most important additions to the bylaws. “911 calls from cell phones (and smart watches), including pocket dials or children playing with deactivated cell phones that still have the availability to call 911, are a widespread problem that takes up a lot of police time and travel, not to mention 911 call centre time.” he said.

Calls for non-emergency services are also an issue: “We have callers who systematically call 911 requesting police assistance for all types of non-emergency issues, including taxi or delivery services.” Gagnon hopes that the new fines will encourage people to be proactive in preventing accidental dials and dissuade non-emergency callers.

A new section has been added concerning drones prohibiting careless or negligent use.

It forbids use that could endanger aviation safety, or the safety of anyone else.

Drones cannot be used for voyeurism, mischief, nuisance, infringing on an individual’s privacy, collecting personal information about an individual on private property, or a violation of any laws.

The updated bylaw regulates the use of lasers banning those more than 1mW from use outside of private residences. Lasers of less than 1mW could only be used outside the home for legitimate reasons, such as work, educational purposes, astronomy, etc.

Notably, considering recent fire bans, the bylaw now defines a compliant fireplace as “one constructed of non-combustible materials and fitted with a screen or spark arrestor cover with openings no larger than 1 cm in diameter.”

Peddling

Under the current bylaw, peddlers who distribute materials of a “moral or religious character” are exempt from requiring a permit as are solicitors seeking donations for non-profits. The proposed changes would remove those exemptions. Gagnon said: “The MRC believes that municipalities should have the power to verify the background and authenticity of any solicitor who is requesting money, in order to ensure it is not a fraudulent endeavour, masquerading as a non-profit or religious organization. We are seeing more and more charlatans attempting to swindle people online, by phone and door-to-door. This modification would allow us to have recourse in these cases.”