Williams Lake drivers making illegal left turns or stopping their vehicles in a no-stopping area could be given a ticket by an RCMP officer, but under the city’s traffic bylaw system.
Brendan Foote, the City’s Senior Bylaw Officer, and Const. Colin Champagne, the RCMP’s municipal traffic officer, are hoping the City’s traffic control bylaw can be amended to make that an option.
During the committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, March 5, Foote and Champagne discussed the proposal.
“It would give the RCMP an extra level of enforcement and another option,” Foote said. “With this bylaw it’s actually a lot less of an impact on the offender. The fine amount will be way less than getting an RCMP ticket and with an RCMP ticket, you get points on your license as well.”
The RCMP traffic control officer in Williams Lake already issues parking bylaw tickets for illegally parked vehicles in the city, Foote said, noting the tickets for the other violations would be the same amount of $100, or $25 if paid within 14 days.
“We have signs downtown for illegal left turns, which is a City sign, but as it stands right now, the bylaw department does not have the ability to enforce it, but the RCMP does,” Foote added.
Mayor Walt Cobb said it will be a “huge” issue because nobody has policed it for a long time.
Champagne said officers did police it one evening recently and there were “non-stop” illegal left turns.
“In the motor vehicle act I think it’s $138 and two points for that illegal left turn. This is where a municipal bylaw with a reduced fine is more applicable.”
Another time, Champagne said he tagged parents picking up children at the back of Lake City Secondary.
“The City has no stopping, no parking signs all along there to try and stop the congestion and all these parents are pulling up and stopping there.’
Champagne said written warnings don’t work, but ticketing does.
“If every time I was going to write a warning, and instead I wrote a municipal ticket, which is a reduced amount, you would see my warnings disappear, my municipal tickets go up, and my provincial tickets stay the same,” he said. “I’ve been in this municipal traffic position since June, and I think it would be nice to have that fourth option as an officer, especially when they are City signs.”
Gary Muraca, director of municipal services, said the City has been changing signs at the schools, and trying to get people to change.
“We are making bigger signs, or changing the times and we are constantly trying to educate people,” Muraca said, noting when the Traffic Advisory Committee met a month ago, everyone at the meeting thought allowing the RCMP to issue bylaw tickets was a good idea.
Coun. Craig Smith said it makes sense, but that he wondered about the legal aspects.
Responding, Champagne said the City has the power to make the wording and the signs.
Coun. Sheila Boehm said the option would give drivers another chance, especially when they are N drivers.
“This is a nice way to learn where they don’t have the points attached,” Boehm said.
Coun. Marnie Brenner was hesitant and asked if it could be reviewed after a time period.
“I would hope that we are using caution and weighing the situation and not being too lenient,” she said.
Insp. Jeff Pelley, Officer in Charge of the Williams Lake RCMP detachment, said police have an operational discretion to issue a verbal or written warning or issue a violation ticket.
“This will give officers another tool in the tool box, but it doesn’t mean they are going to be more lenient,” Pelley said.
The proposal will now go to a regular council meeting for further discussion.