In the face of some public backlash against the new security alarm systems bylaw, the City is trying to clarify the intent of the bylaw that was adopted late last year.
Since the bylaw was adopted the City has removed the requirement of alarm holders to provide their key holder information.
According to the statistics provided by the City, in 2008 and 2009 the RCMP responded to 93 false alarms per month totaling 1,000 a year. The City further estimated the cost of responding to those false alarms at between $54,000 and $63,000 a year for the RCMP and $89,000 for the fire department.
“There’s a lot of taxpayer money currently being wasted,” said Mayor Kerry Cook.
“We felt it was necessary to put this new bylaw in place because we want to see the numbers and the cost reduced.”
The alarm bylaw requires that monitored security and fire alarms within the city be registered. The annual registration cost is $15 for residential alarms and $20 for commercial and other alarms. Fees for excessive false alarms begin at three false alarms in a 365-day period. The fees for what are deemed excessive false alarms begin at $100 to be charged after the third false alarm in a 365-day period.
The fourth and subsequent false alarms will incur a $150 fee. The City says the fees are intended to encourage responsible alarm use, extra diligence to avoid false alarms and provide an incentive to keep alarms properly maintained. The fees are further intended to recoup some of the cost of maintaining a database of registered alarms, tracking excessive false alarms, administration and providing targeted education to alarm owners.
“This is not a cash grab,” Cook said. “As a city we want to reduce the number of false alarms so we can better use our resources and our taxpayers’ dollars.”
All emergency service providers will continue to respond to all alarms regardless of how many false alarms have been reported at an address.
Cook says there have been 230 alarms registered to date.