Zero tolerance for West County infractions: RCMP
Officers plan to target west country drunk drivers, litterbugs
By Dan Singleton
Pull quote: “We have a pretty precious resource there and it’s unfortunate if it gets spoiled since the next generation would like to enjoy it too.” - Bruce Beattie, Sundre-area Mountain View County councillor.
RCMP officers and their enforcement partners will be making a concerted effort to target drunk drivers and people who litter in the wilderness areas west of Sundre this spring and summer, say officials.
“The message that we want to send out is there is going to be zero tolerance, meaning if you are breaking the law, you are going to be charged,” said Sundre RCMP Sgt. Percy Leipnitz.
Police will be checking the sobriety of not only the drivers of cars and trucks, but also drivers of quads and other off-road vehicles during the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend and throughout the summer, he said.
It is unlawful to operate any motorized vehicle on a public roadway while impaired by alcohol, he noted.
Anyone who damages property and leaves garbage and other debris at campsites and other public areas in the west country will also be targeted, said Sundre RCMP Cpl. Ryan Hodge.
“It’s not usually the Sundre people who are making all the mess, it’s people coming from outside the area who think the laws don’t apply,” said Hodge. “Just because it’s the long weekend it doesn’t mean the laws get put aside. There are some people who have no respect and they ruin it for everyone.”
In past recent summers, vast amounts of debris, including abandoned tents, beverage bottles, coolers, and many other things, have been left scattered around campsites and along riverbanks in the west country.
Police will be working with various partners to enforce the liquor and littering laws, he said, noting those partners will include sheriffs, Fish and Wildlife officers, Forestry officers, and municipal enforcement officers.
Details of the planned enforcement during the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend are still being worked out and will be released later this month, he said.
Sundre-area Mountain View County councillor Bruce Beattie applauds the plans to target litterbugs in the west country.
“I think it’s obvious with the increased population and the increased tourism that we are going to see some of that littering,” said Beattie. “It’s unfortunate because I think people should have a little more respect for our west country. We have a pretty precious resource there and it’s unfortunate if it gets spoiled since the next generation would like to enjoy it too.”
Campers and other west county visitors can also help address the litter problems, he said.
“In many cases it’s peer pressure that works,” he said. “It shouldn’t be left up only to law enforcement. Why don’t people take a little more responsibility? If they see others doing those things, either talk to them or even do a little cleaning up on their own.”
Stepped-up efforts to target drunk drivers is also welcome news, he said.
“I have no sympathy for anyone who drinks and drives. People need to take more responsibility,” he said.
Jeff Holmes, Director of Legislative, Community and Agricultural Services in Mountain View County, says county officers will be working with enforcement partners to target individuals who litter in public areas this summer.
“We are the gateway to the west country so we will be doing enforcement within our boundaries and working with our partners in the county,” said Holmes.
Sundre-Olds Fish and Wildlife officer Adam Mirus said officers will be checking vehicles for required safety features.
“We will do roving checkstops and check all the off-highway vehicles to make sure they have all the right equipment, such as front headlights and tail lights, which are required when operating on any Crown lands. And we will be checking to make sure people aren’t drinking and driving of course,” said Mirus.
In past years Sustainable Resource Development has placed large garbage bins at key intersections coming out of the west country so campers can dispose of their garbage as they head home, and that will continue this year, he said.
“Whatever they take in there (west country) they have to bring out,” he said.