Bear spray and tasers in, but knives and machetes out for updated dangerous weapons bylaw

Bear spray and tasers could soon be considered dangerous weapons under an updated Prince Albert bylaw, however knives and machetes (like this one taken by the Prince Albert Police Service in Dec. 2017) will not be included. -- Photo from the Prince Albert Police Service.

City council is another step closer to updating its dangerous weapons bylaw, although the councilor primarily responsible for the change has mixed feelings about it.

Council approved the first two readings of Bylaw No. 6 of 2019, which adds bear spray and tasers to the list of dangerous weapons. However, the updated list will not include machetes or knives, two items city council wanted to add when they reviewed the proposed bylaw on Feb. 12, 2018.

Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards, who was responsible for getting the matter on the agenda one year ago, said he’s not 100 per cent happy with the bill, but added it’s still a good start.

“I’m happy that we’re moving forward with this change,” Edwards said during Monday’s council meeting. “I think it’s going to help the citizens of Prince Albert. I think it’s going to help reduce some of the (negative) things going on in our city … and make our city a positive place.”

The list of knives residents can and cannot carry are governed by the Canadian Criminal Code. Federal laws also govern when knives and machetes are or are not considered weapons. Only knives with “a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle” are banned outright.

Edwards said federal restrictions prevented the city from adding knives and machetes to the list of dangerous weapons.

“That’s important for people to know, that we tried and that we looked into different ways that we could move forward with this and that we could get a little bit tough on crime, but this gets us part way there,” he added. “I mean, our old dangerous weapon bylaw, 1961, totally outdated, so it’s almost embarrassing that we say 1961 because it’s a long time ago.”

Other changes include increasing the maximum allowable fine for persons found in violation of the bylaw. Previously, residents could only receive a maximum fine of $100. If the bylaw passes third reading, that number will increase to $1,000.

Third reading of the bylaw is scheduled for the next regular council meeting.