BATHURST, N.B. — A city council in northern New Brunswick is staying tight-lipped about changes to a contentious Halloween bylaw that puts an age limit on the pursuit of sugary loot and sets a curfew for anyone in disguise.
Bathurst Coun. Samuel Daigle confirmed that amendments easing an existing Halloween bylaw passed final reading during a council meeting Monday night, but declined to comment further.
"The communications director asked us not to comment on anything," he said Tuesday. "Each time we say anything it turns into a circus."
Bathurst spokesman Luc Foulem said in an email Tuesday that the mayor and councillors "will not be making any further comments" regarding the Halloween bylaw amendments, which have received international attention.
The new rules ban trick-or-treating for anyone older than 16 and set an 8 p.m. curfew for all, relaxing the old bylaw forbidding teens over age 14 from collecting candy door-to-door with a 7 p.m. cut-off.
The bylaw also prohibits anyone from wearing a facial disguise in public after curfew. Anyone spotted donning a zombie mask or a witch's veil after 8 p.m. can be fined up to $200.
It also stipulates that Halloween is to celebrated on Oct. 31.
While many towns and cities have issued Halloween-related policies or guidelines to protect little ghosts and goblins or step up police patrols, a bylaw restricting trick-or-treating and enforcing an early curfew is an unusual step.
Although the changes in Bathurst relax existing restrictions, the bylaw has generated intense controversy — the city's deputy mayor wants it should be scrapped altogether. Kim Chamberlain calls it an overreach for city councillors to impose Halloween rules.
Bathurst police say they'll use common sense enforcing the Halloween bylaw.
"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," Const. Jeff Chiasson said in an interview Monday. "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.
"I think the spirit of this is to prevent any mischief," he said.
— Story by Brett Bundale in Halifax
The Canadian Press