The City may create a dangerous weapons bylaw.
The move comes at the behest of the RCMP who say that violent incidents in the City increasingly involve the use of machetes and bear spray.
The RCMP has asked specifically for a control on the sale of bear spray and the prohibition on the sale of machetes and bladed weapons not for use in preparing food.
In his latest crime update to council, Staff Sgt. Warren Brown indicated that Williams Lake, while experiencing a decline in most areas, was number one for violent crime amongst B.C. communities policed by the RCMP. Brown later said machetes and bear spray are used in those crimes noting it is “common” for the RCMP to come across these weapons, “weekly if not daily.”
“The availability of them in Williams Lake is easy. What we are trying to do is see what steps we can take, so I recommend to limit the access and possession of those instruments,” Brown said.
Brown defined a “bladed weapon” as martial arts-type weapons or longer swords.
While the mayor and all councillors supported the move to create such a bylaw, Coun. Sue Zacharias pointed out that it wasn’t intended to target individuals who carry such knives for ceremonial or religious purposes or the public who use tools such as Swiss Army knives or Leathermans.
“This is strictly targeted at weapons of great destruction and harm in the hands of people using them for violent crime,” she said.
Coun. Geoff Bourdon supported the bylaw’s creation but wondered how it would be enforced.
The City’s chief administrative officer suggested it would be complaint driven where individuals would most likely be subject to a fine.
It was further recommended by staff that the City send letters to retailers who currently sell these items requesting their co-operation in using discretion with the weapons’ availability.
“This bylaw would be a tool to assist the RCMP with violent crime and be one more step to take back the city,” said Mayor Cook.
City staff will now investigate other municipalities and consult with the RCMP and the City’s legal counsel in the preparation of a draft bylaw.
Possessing bear spray for any other purpose than to use as protection against wildlife is currently prohibited in B.C.