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Changes to alarm bylaw could see penalties rise by 40 per cent

The city has had an alarm monitoring bylaw since January 2002
home security system getty images
(Getty Images)

If you own a security system that regularly produces false alarms and that brings out emergency personnel, then you could pay a higher financial penalty in the future.   

The City of Moose Jaw has had an alarm monitoring bylaw since January 2002 that helped reduce the number of false alarms to which emergency personnel responded. Before that, the Moose Jaw Police Service responded to a high volume of false alarms that were mainly due to owners failing to properly operate or maintain their systems, according to a report from the Board of Police Commissioners.

Due to a lack of onus on the alarm owners to rectify the situation, false alarms occurred at some premises repeatedly, which resulted in a waste of police resources and costs.

The current bylaw charges a $15 registration fee and $15 yearly renewal fee, along with a response fee of $75 that allows two free dispatches in 365 days. However, those figures could soon increase, after the board of police commissioners voted unanimously recently to approve an amendment to increase the fees to $25 for registration, $25 for renewal and $100 for responding to the false alarms.

The amendment will be sent to the city solicitor’s office, which will then forward the amendment to city council for official approval.

The bylaw has served the municipality satisfactorily since its implementation in 2002, but there have been no changes to it since that time, Staff Sgt. Randy Jesse said during the Sept. 15 meeting. He contacted other municipalities to see what they charged for false alarms and found Moose Jaw is behind the curve.

The police service pays a full-time employee 25 per cent to handle the billing and administrative work for false alarms, he added. The organization is currently “upside-down on wages” in this area, so the amendments will afford it a revenue stream that is cost-neutral to manage the bylaw.

“It sounds fair to me,” said commissioner Mary Lee Booth.

City council updated the fire bylaw more than a year ago and it came into effect in 2019, said board chair Mayor Fraser Tolmie. He thought updating the alarm bylaw helped the municipality modernize its bylaws and procedures.

The next board of police commissioners meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 20.