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New measure outlines appropriate behaviour at city facilities

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

An updated piece of policy is set to outline the do’s and don’ts at city facilities, parks and recreational complexes.

The new Respect Check policy is being touted as a strong step forward by the city to make sure residents, users and staff members know their responsibilities inside not only municipal recreational facilities, but also on its fields and trails.

“The Respect Check policy is aimed at being a proactive measure and really trying to do some education around appropriate behaviour in our recreation facilities,” says Julie MacIssac, the city’s director of culture and recreation services.

The policy is an update to the original code of conduct for city facilities approved in 2008, and not only outlines in greater detail the roles and responsibilities for users and staff, but adds in the Park Services programs and links the policy to the trespass bylaw.

The report outlining the changes notes that the new policy is “intended to be a precursor and companion to the council-approved trespass bylaw, as it will be used to better inform staff and the public about what behaviours are expected in our recreation facilities and parks.”

Common sense can dictate a number of the stipulations that would be considered inappropriate behaviour, but for the purposes of the policy, a multitude of items are included under that list, including “loud verbal assaults”, threats, attempts to goad or incite violence, theft, possession of weapons, vandalism, racial or ethnic slurs, drug or alcohol consumption, or “engagement in a course of annoying comment or conduct.”

According to Ron Diskey the commissioner of community services, he says the new policy isn’t spurred by an increase in incidents, but simply a proactive step, and overall, the city doesn’t deal with many issues.

“We don’t have many incidents, but when we do, we deal with them quickly,” he told the community services committee where the report was first introduced.

The report was carried through council at its meeting on Monday evening. Staff will now be initiating an education campaign to educate user groups and residents of the new policy.

“I think this is a great step forward in providing a safe space,” said Councillor Amy McQuaid-England.