It was no walk in the park for Doug Tervoort, who discovered pedestrians can be charged for a simple midnight stroll on public green space.
Mr. Tervoort was arrested and ticketed by city police earlier this summer for walking in Bonnycastle Park after hours, even though he wasn't causing problems or disturbing the peace. His "mistake" could cost him a $275 fine, but he is fighting the matter in the courts.
He was understandably shocked by his treatment, but then most Winnipeggers probably aren't aware they can be charged with an offence for walking in a city-owned park after 10 p.m. and before 7 a.m.
Under the city's park bylaw, the city can establish hours of use for a park or "part of a park." The hours of operation, however, must be posted. In some parks, gates are closed at 10 p.m. and not opened until 7 a.m., which blocks vehicles, but not people on foot.
The idea that a senior citizen out for an early morning stroll could be ticketed is preposterous. If the problem is rowdyism after hours, then that's what police should be targeting.
In the case of Mr. Tervoort, police may have been entitled to question him, but once it was determined he wasn't a threat to public safety, he should have been allowed to carry on. There are three signs in the park posting its hours of operation, but pedestrians can enter it from anywhere on the street, which means many people could be breaking the law without knowing it.
As a downtown park, Bonnycastle can be a magnet for rowdy or illegal behaviour, so a police presence is not unusual, particularly since the area is also a residential district.
The idea, however, that public greenways can be closed completely after sunset needs to be reviewed to ensure that citizens engaged in ordinary activities are not liable to being arrested and ticketed.
Taxpayers should be allowed to use their parks without wondering if they are breaking the law as the sun dips below the horizon.