By Doug Hallett
Mayor Karen Farbridge has some concerns about a proposed public nuisance bylaw, but she thinks the issue is worth exploring and seeking public feedback.
“I’m really looking forward to hearing back from the public on this,” Farbridge said in an interview Tuesday.
Council will decide Monday whether to endorse a committee recommendation to approve in principle the creation of a public nuisance bylaw. If council gives the nod, city hall will solicit public opinion on a draft bylaw that was prepared by city staff in consultation with Guelph Police.
Controversial provisions in the draft bylaw include forbidding “protests and rallies that extend beyond 24 consecutive hours” unless a permit is obtained from the city. The bylaw would also make it an offence to camp or construct temporary structures on city property, unless the city has granted a permit.
Asked if she’s concerned about the draft bylaw’s limits on protests, Farbridge said there have been “safety and security issues” associated with some protests in the past in Guelph.
“I think it is worthwhile exploring it,” she said, to see what limits might justifiably be placed on such protests.
The part of the bylaw that Farbridge zeroed in on, though, was the part dealing with “nuisance parties” on private property.
The draft bylaw would allow enforcement officials to “disperse parties as well as close roadways to restrict the party from increasing.” It also establishes the authority of the city to “recover costs incurred while addressing nuisance parties” – from the party’s host or from the property owner.
There have been cases in the past where city hall has “not been able to respond effectively” to concerns of citizens, Farbridge said. “The big one is the impact on neighbourhoods of large parties,” she added.
The proposed public nuisance bylaw could help the city deal better with complaints about such parties, she said.
However, Farbridge isn’t sold on all parts of the draft bylaw.
“I have a personal reaction to some things” in the draft bylaw, she said. “I wonder what the implications are.” For example, she said, “is this going to limit buskers playing music outside the farmers’ market?”
Farbridge said she wants to “hear more discussion” about how the public nuisance bylaw “will actually play out.”
If council does approve in principle a public nuisance bylaw on Monday, it shouldn’t be taken as a council endorsement of every element in the draft bylaw presented by staff, Farbridge stressed.