The City of Edmonton wants residents to weigh in on a new bylaw that will govern what people are allowed to do in public spaces.
For the purposes of the bylaw, “public space” refers to publically-owned land like parks and plazas along with public transit stations, stops and vehicles. It also refers to “any space in the city of Edmonton that is open and accessible to the general public,” including malls, food courts and university campuses.
The public spaces bylaw will touch on everything from using speakers in public parks to sleeping in LRT stations, according to Gord Cebryk, deputy city manager of city operations.
He added that while city council can usually make decisions around bylaws, the city administration wants input from residents on the issue of public safety.
“I think it’s really important that whatever regulations the city incorporates or establishes, that they are aligned with what people in Edmonton need in terms of feeling safe and being safe,” said Cebryk.
The bylaw will replace three existing bylaws: the current public places bylaw, the parkland bylaw and the conduct of transit passengers bylaw.
“We want to have an overarching bylaw that governs all public spaces but has the ability to focus on particular areas that maybe need some specific attention,” said Cebryk.
One of those areas is around drug use in public places, he said. Cebryk said the survey asks for the opinion of Edmontonians because many have differing ideas on how to address it.
“I think that there’s probably a pretty common understanding that it’s not appropriate and it’s not legal, but how do we go about addressing it? Because many of these problems around drug use are deeply rooted in other issues,” he said.
Cebryk said arresting someone or issuing them a summons isn’t always the answer.
“It’s about how do we get to a place that helps these people get out of those types of situations so that the drug use doesn’t continue, because typically enforcement on its own won’t necessarily get to the root of the problem.”
The survey also asks about performances, small commercial activity, parades and other recreational activities in public spaces.
The survey is open until May 21 and can be completed on the city’s website.