Skateboarding, biking or rollerblading without a helmet could be a costly undertaking in the future.
During its Feb. 11 meeting, Prince Rupert city council gave first three readings to a bylaw that would impose fines and the possible confiscation of equipment for people who choose not to wear a helmet on the streets and sidewalks around town. While the initial plan was to impose a $35 fine for the first offence, a $70 fine for the second offence and a confiscation on the third offence, council amended those penalties following concerns raised by Coun. Barry Cunningham.
“I would be pissed off if I had to pay $35 then had to go out and pay $70 or $80 for a helmet … I would like to amend the penalties so that the first offence is $35, but if a helmet is purchased and brought in with a receipt that penalty is waved, otherwise it is really a double hit,” he said.
The idea found support among council, who also recommended the money collected through fines be put aside to help purchase helmets for those who cannot afford the added expense. In the case of youth being caught not wearing a helmet, the bylaw puts the onus on the parent or guardians who “authorizes or knowingly permits the person not to wear a helmet”.
“Someone has to buy a helmet, safety has to be first. Whether the parent or child is paying, safety always has to be first,” said Mayor Jack Mussallem.
“No matter what other people say, we’re not going to let you put yourself in harm’s way and we’re going to do everything we can to prevent it,” added Coun. Anna Ashley.
The lone voice of opposition to the bylaw came from Coun. Gina Garon, who said she didn’t feel a simple fine had enough teeth to deter riders from forgoing a helmet.
“I don’t see where paying $35 is going to stop some little longboarder from going 70 or 80 miles pr hour down McBride,” she said.
“I agree people should wear a helmet, but we can’t babysit them all the time.”