After several months in development, Scugog’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for municipally-owned facilities is expected to come into effect in the new year.
The draft document, presented to councillors this week by Recreation and Culture Manager Craig Belfry, outlines a number of behaviours deemed unacceptable for local arenas, playing fields and facilities - such as aggressive or violent acts - as well as corresponding staff responses and penalties for offenders. Councillors approved a staff recommendation this week that the policy be adopted.
The policy, which Mr. Belfry said is based on a similar document enforced in the City of Burlington, went through a lengthy review period involving consultations with local user groups, hall boards and Durham police. The policy will also be reviewed with staff of the Scugog Memorial Public Library, as peer a council amendment to the staff recommendation at the meeting. Staff training and a public awareness campaign are expected to start in the new year, said Mr. Belfry.
Operating on a ‘three strikes’ basis, penalties for various behaviours range from a minimum one- to six-month ban, based on the type and severity of the incident, from all municipal recreation facilities upon the first offence, up to a minimum three-year ban for a fourth offence. Appeals to the policy will require individuals to pay a non-refundable fee of $200, which Mr. Belfry previously said was in line with other municipalities that have enacted such policies.
Work began on the policy following a Feb. 19 assault on a hockey ref at the Scugog Arena. In that incident, a verbal exchange between the referee and two parents of Port Perry players began inside the arena, regarding calls made by the ref during the game. Police said that one parent later threatened the ref and kicked his legs in the parking lot. The assault took place in front of several people, including children, said police. One parent was charged while the ref and the second parent were later suspended for their roles in the incident.
In response to an inquiry by Councillor Larry Corrigan, Mr. Belfry explained that the incident has drawn awareness to the issue of unacceptable behaviours at local facilities.
"There seems to be a greater awareness since the March incident," he said, "and a dialogue has begun between staff and user groups. It’s really started the communication. Port Perry Minor Hockey now staffs their dressing rooms with two adults - these new rules and changes are being developed."