Prince Albert grapples with back alley curfew
SASKATOON -- Prince Albert resident Jarrett Ahenakew lives in the midtown area and said he doesn’t feel his neighbourhood is a safe place for his family.
“It's terrible. My kids can't even play outside without us being right beside them. My son can't even walk to the hockey rink,” said Ahenakew.
He said he supports a back alley curfew in the city of Prince Albert, however he believes addiction issues are part of the problem.
“I just see a lot of crime happening around here. I see a lot of undesirables walking around here. People that are obviously high.”
Ahenakew said he has caught people attempting to break into his vehicle.
The 200 block of Ninth Street East has been the scene of two murders in the last two years. It was the site of a fatal assault on 61-year-old David Maxemiuk Mar. 15, 2020, while 32-year-old Tyrell Bird died after being shot in the alley June 28, 2018.
Prince Albert City Council has proposed a back alley curfew to restrict people from being in back alleys between midnight and 6 a.m. A bylaw to impose a curfew on walkways except Rotary Trail passed third reading seven votes to two on Feb. 24.
Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zep voted against the walkways and back alley curfew. She said a report prepared by the Prince Albert City Police stated that the police force would need more money for resources to enforce such a curfew and that it would cost the city $20,000 for the signage to notify people of the bylaw. She said citizens expressed concern over this use of taxpayer funds for signs of this nature.
She also said studies have shown curfews lead to racial profiling from officers on innocent citizens.
“I oppose it because the Prince Albert Police Service themselves tell us that without additional funds they aren’t able to do proactive work like this and also, as I’ve stated, these types of curfews are shown to contribute to racism in our cities,” Lennox-Zep said.
The province controls back alley roadways and Prince Albert would have to get permission from the province to pass the bylaw. Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky supports a curfew and said it would allow police to question and ticket offenders. He sees it as one more tool to help combat property crime and theft.
“I think we've had so much with minor theft in the city this will help control it,” said Nowoselsky.
The office of the city clerk said the back alley curfew bylaw will return to council once the province provides council with their position on the matter.