Dale Ball Passive Park in Brookswood-Fernridge is a popular spot to play pond hockey in the wintertime. Langley Times file photo

Pond hockey banned in public parks under updated Township bylaw

Public spaces bylaw imposes new restrictions on smoking, possession of drug paraphernalia, geocaching and more

A friendly game of pond hockey this winter could cost skaters $100, thanks to new restrictions imposed by the Township of Langley.

The municipality’s updated public spaces regulation bylaw — which council gave first, second and third reading in July — will prohibit people from travelling “on or across any water in a public space which is frozen or appears to be frozen.”

The reason comes down to safety and liability, explained Al Neufeld, Township deputy director, public spaces and community initiatives.

“We rarely get ice thick enough that we would be comfortable signing to say it’s safe,” Neufeld said.

“We certainly wouldn’t want to encourage anyone else to go out on ice that is too thin to support them, and that’s a very difficult thing to monitor, whether ice is thick enough for people to go on. So for personal safety and for liability of the Township … generally we wouldn’t want people to go out on ice.”

As far as enforcement of the new rule, Neufeld said it will be eased in.

“Our normal process is to educate people first, so give them a warning and refer to the bylaw,” he said. “That is there to protect their health and safety, and also (explain to them) that they need to have common sense.”

The public spaces bylaw — which covers parks and school district lands — was first created in 1976, and is being updated to reflect new technology.

One of the most significant changes will restrict smoking in public parks to designated areas only.

This rule will apply to anyone who burns a cigarette, e-cigarette, cigar, joint, or smoking device like a bong or vaporizer, that contains tobacco, cannabis or other herbs.

According to a staff report, “this will reduce conflicts between those that do not smoke and avoid areas where children gather or play such as playgrounds and sport fields or places where crowds gather such as bleachers or seating areas.”

Signage will be installed in the Township’s larger parks, along with proper disposals for butts.

Other changes in the bylaw include prohibiting the possession of drug paraphernalia — which now gives bylaw officers the power to ticket people who are found in parks with equipment used for consuming illegal drugs — and adding parameters to popular activities like geocaching or operating unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones.

Beyond that, some strange bans in parks remain in place as well, including golfing, parachuting, skydiving and swimming without a bathing suit.

“Most people use common sense, but there’s always the anomalies and situations that might present themselves where we need the ability to enforce the bylaw for the public good,” Neufeld commented. “So those kind of quirky things have to be in there.”

Those who violate the bylaw could face fines ranging from $100 to $10,000, or even three months in jail, depending on severity and number of offences.

Unauthorized smoking, parachuting and skydiving, for example, will net a $100 fine, while unauthorized alteration of park facilities or equipment, unauthorized alteration of plants or vegetation, and using fireworks will net $500.

In some cases, the Township can issue park permits to temporarily permit any of the restricted or banned activities.



miranda@langleytimes.com

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