Zero tolerance

A new policy to deal with problems arising from drinking in the downtown will be brought into play this year.

Local detachment commander, Staff Sgt. Thalhofer said the data has been gathered and now a change in policy is warranted.

At a public meeting last year Thalhofer received significant pressure from Councillor Russ Gingrich to increase enforcement in the downtown to deal with loitering and drinking, and while he had been working on the issue, Thalhofer has since laid the groundwork for a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding drinking-related disturbances in the downtown.

While Thalhofer made it clear at the meeting last year,  it would be a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other legislation to simply begin to arrest people, he said he has been gathering the statistics and working with his RCMP members to begin to attempt to shift their approach.

While any change in policy will require an education component, Thalhofer said the groundwork has been done over much of last year, and RCMP will now be arresting people downtown who are creating issues due to intoxication.

But Thalhofer is also quick to clarify he sees the issue as a social problem which will require the entire community, and especially the municipality which has been so vocal about the problem, to all do their part.

“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to look for long-term solutions,” said Thalhofer. He suggested mayor and council could be looking for options such as loitering bylaws which many municipalities use to help address problems in their downtown in order to create a law which would help to effect a change in people’s behaviour.

Thalhofer will be presenting his quarterly report to mayor and council at their meeting on Jan. 23 and will be bringing forward his policy change then and asking mayor and council to also support the community by doing what they can to address the issue.