Halloween teen trick or treat ban bylaw in Bathurst, N.B. up for vote
In this stock photo, children trick or treat while dressed up in costumes on Halloween. (Getty Images)
BATHURST, N.B. — Changes to a controversial Halloween bylaw banning older teenagers from trick-or-treating and setting an early curfew for anyone in disguise were expected to be approved in a northern New Brunswick city Monday night.
Bathurst city council was set to vote on proposed amendments that would slacken the existing Halloween bylaw following a final reading Monday night.
The new rules would forbid anyone older than 16 from trick-or-treating and set a curfew at 8 p.m., easing the current rules banning teens over age 14 from collecting candy door-to-door, with a 7 p.m. cut-off.
Under the proposed changes, teens over 16 found roaming the streets for treats or anyone dressed in public in a “facial disguise” from a zombie mask to a witch’s veil after curfew can be fined up to $200.
Bathurst police say they’ll use common sense enforcing the Halloween bylaw if it passes third reading.
“If some child is walking around at 8:05 p.m. and has a mask on, we’re not necessarily going to give them a ticket,” said Const. Jeff Chiasson. “But if we do find people over the age of 16 throwing apples or stealing candies from other kids or things like that, that’s where the imposition of the fines would be put into place.”
The bylaw gives police a tool to prevent and stop mischief, he said, adding that fines would be used only as a last resort.
“We’re not going to be stopping every single person but if there is activity that is consistent with something illegal, it’s more or less a tool that we can use to stop and question that person and say ’Hey listen it’s 9 o’clock at night, you’re 19 years old, where are you heading?”’ Chiasson said.
Although he said Bathurst hasn’t seen any crime directly attributed to trick-or-treaters in recent years, Chiasson said there have been some “scary clown” sightings reported.
“I think the spirit of this is to prevent any mischief,” he said, noting that before the first iteration of the bylaw was ushered in police received numerous complaints on Halloween night.
Bathurst deputy mayor Kim Chamberlain has said the proposed changes to the bylaw don’t go far enough.
She argued that the bylaw should be scrapped altogether, calling it an overreach for city councillors to impose Halloween rules.
Chamberlain said homeowners can turn out their porch lights if they don’t want trick-or-treaters past a certain hour.
As Bathurst debates who can go trick-or-treating when, some school boards across the country have issued guidelines to parents on what costumes children are allowed to wear.
But critics say efforts to sanitize Halloween attire and avoid offending anyone have gone too far.
A Winnipeg school’s decision to stop students from wearing costumes to class on Halloween has upset some parents, who argue its not fair to deny their kids the fun.
Ecole Sage Creek School has opted to have four different themed dress-up days during the week where Halloween falls, including a “tie and scarf” day on Oct. 31.
The principal of the Kindergarten to Grade 8 school said some kids wore scary or gory costumes that frightened younger children, or weren’t age-appropriate.
Meanwhile, an Ontario school board has warned parents about costumes that represents a stereotype or mocks a culture.