Edmonton Coun. Scott McKeen is looking for the city to help crack down on some of the less savoury after-effects of the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup playoff run.
“Many of these fans participate in the Canadian tradition of mixing various amounts of beer and/or other beverages with spectatorship,” McKeen said.
“Unfortunately for downtown residents, inevitable fluid dynamics results in less-than-civil behaviour and the use of residential entryways, alcoves, alleys and streets in and around downtown as impromptu urinals.”
McKeen compared that to peeing on someone’s front steps.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that people would do this sort of thing but it’s happening.
“I’ve heard that we may not be, as a community, tagging/fining people for doing that and I sort of want to wake that up. It’s a big fine and I think if we issued a few tickets and then reminded people… I know it’s at least $350… just to remind people that before they leave Rogers Place or the bar they’re in, to take a moment, look after business, and not to use downtown as a urinal.”
He’s looking for the number of nuisance tickets handed out by police and bylaw officers, the division of responsibility when it comes to bylaw enforcement, as well as coping mechanisms for residents who aren’t getting satisfaction from calling 311.
McKeen presented an inquiry at city hall on Tuesday. Scroll down to read it in full.
He also sent a note to the police commission.
“One of the complaints I heard is — and I suspect this might be true — that police are out there after games making sure everybody is behaving, and may not be focused on some guy taking a pee over there in front of a building. But, as I say, a few tickets with some communications broadly might start to change behaviour,” McKeen said.
Police Chief Rod Knecht said Monday the EPS is seeing a slight uptick in the number of arrests for public drunkenness during the playoffs.
“But not an alarming amount, a very manageable amount,” he said, adding citizens are helping each other and policing themselves.
Mayor Don Iveson said he’s grateful McKeen brought the issue forward.
“I think we have a design issue with downtown now. We’re victims of our own good fortune that so many people are downtown and they have cause to celebrate so enthusiastically.
“First and foremost, we want people to be neighbourly, and that means not peeing on their neighbour’s property.”
Iveson said it’s clearly become an issue that needs to be addressed, but the city has to be realistic in terms of a timeline.
“We’re going to need to put solutions in place for next season for sure. And, if there are temporary measures in the way of porta potties and things like that, I think that’s worth looking at too. So, I’m hopeful we can take some short-term measures but clearly, there’s some longer-term measures to grapple with.”
McKeen said he wants people to enjoy the playoffs, but also be respectful of their surroundings.
“We all want people to celebrate, and Lord knows, I’ve had a little trouble getting to sleep… with all the honk, honk, honking, which is fine! I’m not really complaining about that. I kind of like that sound. It means the Oilers won.
“The community wants it, demands it. I certainly want to reinforce with fans that downtown is a residential neighbourhood.”
With that in mind, McKeen said, there’s some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
“There’s been some, not violent behaviour, but bad behaviour — people urinating on sort of the front step of a condo tower — so it’s just recognizing that you’re in a residential neighbourhood,” he said.
Coun. Tony Caterina asked that the answers to McKeen’s inquiry also take into consideration the same problem around Northlands Coliseum and Commonwealth Stadium.
Last month, four portable toilets were installed in downtown Edmonton in response to complaints about public urination before and after Oilers games.
The potties have taken up temporary residence in Michael Phair Park at 101 Avenue and 104 Street.
“There’s so many people in the downtown area and during the playoff games, we want to make sure that people have the opportunity to use public facilities rather than places they probably shouldn’t,” explained Nicole Poirier, the director of civic events and festivals for the City of Edmonton.
The portable toilets will only be open for Oilers games – a few hours ahead of the games and until the downtown core is clear of crowds. They will be locked during off hours.
They’re scheduled to be removed once the playoff run is over.
— With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED