In Ontario, A Town Moves to a Non-Response Policy... Or Does It?

Wording of bylaws leads to question about what policy really means


On the surface, Tillsonburg, Ontario's city council seems to have passed a non-response policy. The by-law reads as such: "failure to register an alarm with the town will result in non-response by police to a reported alarm, unless the premise has been entered or found to be suspicious in nature upon arrival." Translate that as a non-response or verified response policy (whichever term you prefer to use), and it seems to read loud and clear: if there isn't a verified concern at the property, the police department won't be responding to the alarm system.

However, a clarification from the town's director of corporate services, as quoted in the town's newspaper, The Tillsonburg News, indicates that the language of the law may not be the meaning of the law.

"I think the wording is just poor, the intent was to indicate that alarm companies may not keep people as their clients if they don’t register with the town," said Michael Graves, the aforementioned Tillsonburg director of corporate services, in an interview with the newspaper.

According to Graves, the intent is to require all alarm systems to be permitted, not to move to the city to non-response.

As part of the new by-laws, the town is requiring permits for alarms, $50 for residential/non-commercial, or $100 for commercial locations.

Graves indicated that the town's city council will be re-examining the alarm ordinance to determine a better phrasing for the true intention of the law.