© Star file photo
Wayne Bennett, a councillor in Howley, gestures while speaking at Saturday’s Great Humber Joint Council meeting at the recreation centre in Pasadena.
PASADENA — Don’t pass bylaws if you can’t enforce them is something Wayne Bennett learned during a Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador training session for new councillors last weekend.
That lesson got the new Howley councillor thinking about municipal enforcement and he brought the subject up at Saturday’s meeting of the Great Humber Joint Council at the recreation centre in Pasadena.
The discussion followed on one from the previous joint council meeting where finance chair Penny Piercey brought up regional policing.
Bennett asked Elmo Bingle, a Deer Lake councillor, if his town would consider providing municipal police service to outlying areas, similar to what it does for animal control in Reidville.
He said policing municipal regulations can be hard in small towns where there are so many family relations. He said people trying to enforce the laws often encounter opposition and some backlash because of it.
In response, Bingle said “it’s something that could be looked at, I’m sure, with a request.”
The question drew some discussion about sharing services and regionalization by some of the 15 municipal representatives at the meeting.
“I think, eventually we’re going to go down that road,” said Bennett. “Until that actually happens that doesn’t mean we can’t put things in place.”
The joint council decided to put off further discussion on the matter until its next meeting when Piercey could be present to update members on what she had found out about the subject.
After the meeting Bennett said he hadn’t yet broached the topic with his council, but noted he felt “it’s an issue to explore further.” He said he plans to initiate a discussion with his council about it in the new year.
Bennett said he mentioned Deer Lake because it was the largest centre closest to Howley that has municipal policing staff.
If his council is interested, Bennett said the next step would be to engage Deer Lake in a discussion and then look at a possible fee structure.
“When it comes to stuff like that it’s more on call,” said Bennett of violations to municipal regulations.
“If an issue arises and you need the bylaws enforced, then you contact the service provider, and they would dispatch their municipal police officer or officers and they would come up and address the situation.”
Bingle also said moving forward with any suggestion would have to be a council decision.
He said the town would have to look at whether providing municipal police service to another community was even possible and the cost associated with offering that service.
But Bingle agreed with Bennett that regionalization is coming.
“I think it is inevitable,” he said.
“If you look at regionalization then you have to bring in every aspect of the municipality, the infrastructure, what it takes to run a town. That would all have to be taken into play,” said Bingle.
“It’s very expensive to run a town ... and we all rely on government funding for everything.”