Lillooet Tries Banning Unauthorized Public Meetings

Lillooet Mayor Dennis Bontron has decided he needs a new law. Vandals are causing property damage in the parks the small municipality operates. Mayor Bontron's solution to this problem is to ban "unauthorized public meetings".

Bylaw 343 would close parks and beaches overnight,and would also place a ban on "unauthorized performances, marches, meetings and formal gatherings in public places".

How utterly absurd.

Now, I understand that the fact I live close to this town gives me greater pause for concern than most, but think about this people... how does this proposed bylaw possibly relate to the problem Bontron claims it will solve?

Answer? It doesn't.

Lillooet resident Ernie Anderson was quite vocal to any reporter who would listen, given the number of times he was quoted in articles on the subject.

Saying the proposed bylaw could be easily abused (I agree), he said "What designates public assembly? That is at the discretion of somebody that actually wants to enforce it."

Therein lies one of the problems with this bylaw.

Crime is in the eyes of the beholder.

But this probability of abuse isn't the biggest problem, in my opinion.

The biggest problem is in the opinion of local RCMP Corporal Darrell Robinson: "People pay good money in taxes to preserve their parks, and yet these people consistently break off branches, pull up flowers, drive their vehicles over plant pots, leave drug syringes scattered about." He goes on, in the Globe article, to say that the proposed bylaw will allow police to ask loiterers in public places to leave.

Clearly Corporal Robinson hasn't read his copy of Canada's Criminal Code lately, as police forces across Canada have always had wide discretion to remove people causing damage to public property.

Trespass laws are just one example.

If someone is on property where they shouldn't be, arrest them for trespass.

If people are, as the mayor claimed, throwing rocks through local business windows as was claimed in one story, arrest them for destruction of property.

There are literally dozens of laws already on the books that could be applied to resolve this situation.

What would be required, however, is for Corporal Robinson to leave his desk and actually go out and arrest these petty criminals.

If he isn't willing to do that, or send his fellow corporals out to do the job for him, another law on the books sure ain't gonna get 'er done.

This is obviously a hot-button issue for a lot of people, as the CBC had an article, "B.C. town considers limits on assembly", the Globe and Mail's contribution was titled "A B.C. town fights for its right to party", and McLeans.ca's contribution was called "Lillooet, B.C. to ban 'unauthorized meetings'”.

Lillooet's own Bridge River Lillooet News reporter Janika Thur wrote a detailed article called RCMP seek power to remove people from parks".

At the August 3rd council meeting Bylaw 2010 No. 343 was the main item of discussion, her article says.  Big surprise.

Mayor Bontron and Corporal Robinson would be well advised to listen to the good people of Lillooet before passing such an asinine bylaw.

And Corporal Robinson would do well to get his men out of the office and arresting these miscreants on any of dozens of possible charges that already exist.

All that appears to be lacking in Lillooet is the willingness of local RCMP to do that simple task.

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