City council exploring a curfew bylaw for back alleys and walkways

Prince Albert could soon see a curfew for its back alleys and walkways, similar to the midnight to 6 a.m. curfew for public parks. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“it gives the police increased authority to stop people and say ‘What are you doing here? Can I see your ID?'”

– Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski

Prince Albert City Council is continuing its discussion on the possibility of restricting hours people can be in back alleys and walkways in order to reduce property crime.

Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski brought the motion forward in Monday’s meeting, which he initially proposed last year. It would be similar to the parks bylaw that says you can’t be there between midnight and 6 a.m.

“We’ve seen this through the closure of our parks during the middle of the night, is it gives the police increased authority to stop people and say ‘What are you doing here? Can I see your ID?’ Otherwise they just laugh at them. They laugh at the police and take off,” said Zurakowski.

Mayor Greg Dionne said the Board of Police Commissioners has talked about it. The biggest hurdle is they’d have to sign every entrance to every back alley and walkway, which could be costly.

However, Dionne said “I support this 100 per cent.”

Dionne suggested that Zurakowski adjust the motion to postpone the debate until budget time. This would allow the board to figure out more details before council votes.

The motion to continue the discussion passed 7-2. Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller and Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp opposed.

Throughout the debate, council discussed that people would only be violating the bylaw if they were suspected of criminal activity.

“I’m not talking about well, you know, I want to go for a run at midnight or two o’clock or I want to walk with my wife and hold hands in the middle of the night. That’s not what this is for,” said Zurakowski.

This is one reason Lennox-Zepp opposed the curfew—while the parks bylaw says no one is allowed there within the restricted hours, council discussed that there may be exceptions in back alleys and walkways.

They said many homeowners use back alleys because they lead to the back of their homes, for example.

“If we are saying that some people can be in back alleys and walkways but not others, would this contribute to racism in our city?” she asked.

“Where is there any evidence that such a curfew would reduce crime? What I’m hearing instead is that it offers, it may offer the police an opportunity to do carding, which is very different.”

Carding allows police officers to stop someone and ask them questions without investigating a specific offence.

Lennox-Zepp added that carding is no longer allowed in some areas—such as Ontario—because it’s been thought to be linked to racial profiling.

She also said people are saying Prince Albert has more bylaws than are being enforced.

Dionne said the city is also putting up signs at the city’s cemeteries showing restricted hours between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.