Council to consider bylaw to support safe public places

News Release

Establishing clear public behavior expectations and increasing enforcement authority for Community Safety Officers are part of a package of community safety bylaws being presented to City Council.

“Council has made a concerted effort over the past several years to increase resources through the addition of more police officers, more firefighters and expanding the Community Safety Officer program,” says Blake Laven, the City of Penticton’s director of development services. “These latest initiatives – which have been developed over more than a year – build on the work already done. We’re now proposing to set out what is acceptable and safe behavior for residents and visitors and providing Community Safety Officers with additional tools to enforce these standards and enhance community safety.”

Noting the establishment of the Community Safety Officer program was designed to free up the RCMP to focus on more serious matters, Laven says the statistics show the Bylaw Services office received 3,500 calls in 2022 for “social nuisance in public places” and these calls might have otherwise gone to the RCMP who saw their 17,305 calls for service in 2021 reduced by 500 in 2022.

These newest initiatives are intended to equip the Community Safety Officers with greater tools to address public nuisance and disorder calls, as was called for in the recently completed Community Safety Resources Review. Included in staff’s report to council are:

  • A Safe Public Places Bylaw that establishes community standards and consequences for violations of those standards with the intent of creating a safe, inclusive community where all members feel welcome and safe. 
  • A proposal to designate Bylaw Enforcement and Community Safety Officers as Peace Officers, which gives additional authority and provides greater protection to bylaw officers. 
  • A Bylaw and Community Safety Officer Procedure Policy that identifies progressive steps for officers to follow when interacting with individuals suspected to be in breach of a municipal bylaw.

A new development is the recent start of the three-year pilot project begun by the provincial government, decriminalizing for the possession of small amounts of previously illegal substances. The bylaw provides exemptions for substance use in designated areas in order to direct individuals to use in safe spaces – following the intent of the drug decriminalization pilot project. 

“Our goal is to ensure that every one feels safe, including those struggling with addictions issues. These initiatives are intended to work with and supplement other initiatives addressing addictions in the community and the City continues to advocate for more resources to help those in need,” says Laven. 

“The province is very clear municipalities have the right to regulate what happens in public spaces and we want to find that balance. The bylaw covers everything from soliciting at ATMs and drive-thrus to public nudity, public urination and taking over public places such that they can’t be used as intended. We want to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome in public places.”

At their meeting on March 21, Council is being asked to give first reading to the Safe Public Spaces Bylaw which will initiate a one-month engagement process where staff will notify health officials and social agencies and seek feedback from the community. 

The findings of the public engagement and suggested changes will be reviewed by Council prior to seeking further readings of the bylaw or the final endorsement of the changes to peace officer status and the proposed procedure policy. 

Information about the engagement program will be provided on

The report and proposed bylaw can be found here as part of the Council agenda package.