Borrowing from other community examples, the City of Williams Lake has adopted a policy for banning persons from City-owned and managed facilities and lands.
City council unanimously approved the policy during Tuesday’s regular meeting which was held through the Zoom online meeting forum.
Director of community services Ian James proposed the policy to council as a means to ensure safe and respectful spaces for citizens, staff and visitors.
Examples of behaviors that will be a cause for banning include but are not limited to: physical or verbal threats to City staff or others; cause of damage to City property, theft, use of profanity, use or exchange of alcohol or drugs, smoking any substance in prohibited areas, causing a disturbance and intentionally causing an ongoing or significant safety risk, James noted in a report for council’s consideration.
Mayor Walt Cobb suggested ‘health’ risks be added.
“If you look at some of the campsites we’ve had around the country, particularly in the Lower Mainland, health was a huge issue,” Cobb said. “If you look at the garbage and some of the needles that were left and those kinds of things and if you look at what’s happened recently with the two fires we had I think we need to look at health issues as well.”
Cobb said the Williams Lake area has only had a few small camps, but with COVID-19 and other risks, it is important to include health.
His suggestion was approved by the rest of council.
When asked by Coun. Craig Smith if the policy has been vetted legally for Charter of Rights implications, Milo MacDonald, the City’s chief administrative officer replied, ‘yes.’
“This is a policy that’s been borrowed from some other municipalities,” MacDonald explained. “There’s no discrimination on the basis of any prohibitive grounds. We won’t experience any issues legally.”
The other thing, MacDonald said, is the fact the City did not have an existing policy and while some people would be banned there were some inconsistencies.
Being able to apply the policy will give the City an existing framework, MacDonald said, noting the policy is ‘probably more humane’ because it does give second chances.
The key of the policy is that it gives the person who is being banned an opportunity to appeal, added James.
There is a two-step appeal process, he said.
First is for the banned person to speak to the manager or director that has banned them. If they are still not happy then they can go through city council where the manager and the person that is banned will present their situation.