Prince Albert city council has decided to delay a final vote on a controversial proposed bylaw – for now.

The bylaw would restrict access to the city’s back alleys between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. as part of a stated effort to reduce property crime.

Fines for infractions could range as high as $5,000.

However, the bylaw has faced its fair share of criticism from opponents who say it would lead to enhanced police powers and racial carding.

Late last week, the Prince Albert Grand Council issued a press release asking council to hold off on moving the bylaw forward until more consultation can be done.

Terra Lennox-Zepp is one of two members of council who have opposed the bylaw from the start.

Speaking at a city council meeting Monday night, she said it would do nothing to reduce property crime.

“We do not have any evidence before us that this type of bylaw, or a curfew, will result in any reduction in crime whatsoever,” Lennox-Zepp said.

She said the city would be far better off using the $20,000 it plans to spend on signage for the bylaw toward poverty prevention or addictions programming.

Council did agree Monday night to delay third reading so it can meet with PAGC before moving a final vote.

This motion was put forward by Councillor Don Cody who remains a staunch supporter of the bylaw.

He said property crime is a serious issue in the city and residents want action.

Cody said he trusts the Prince Albert Police Service to use proper discretion when administering the bylaw and drawing race into the discussion is unnecessary.

“If you find someone in the back alley at two o’clock in the morning and he’s got a backpack on his back, with a sawed-off shotgun and a machete, you can be sure he’s not hunting ducks or cutting rhubarb, that’s for sure,” he said.

A number of councillors who support the bylaw said back alleys were never intended to be pedestrian walkways and this is why they are poorly lighted and without sidewalks.

Alleys should be for sole use of residents who live in adjacent homes and with only some very specific exemptions, Mayor Greg Dionne, who also supports the bylaw, has said in the past.

Lennox-Zepp said residents already have the power to phone police if they suspect suspicious activity in these alleys which makes the bylaw unnecessary.

She noted a number of times the bylaw gives no new money to an already overtaxed Prince Albert police.

The bylaw passed its first two readings by a 7-2 margin with Lennox-Zepp and Councillor Charlene Miller voting against.

Last week, Prince Albert lawyer Estelle Hjertaas made a presentation to council on a current petition that opposes the bylaw.

The petition had about 200 signatures on in it as of Sunday night.

Council also dealt with a number of other items Monday night in what turned out to be a heavy agenda.

This included making the decision to give the city the ability to borrow an added $20 million to deal with reduced revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing the commercial property tax mill rate on businesses valued at over $5 million.

Council also decided to temporarily suspend the morning rush hour bus route during the pandemic due to a significant drop in ridership.

(PHOTO: Prince Albert Councillor Don Cody spoke in favour of a proposed back alley curfew bylaw at a council meeting Monday night. File photo.)