2014 is upon us. And with a new year comes new rules, new laws and new fees. Here's a quick guide to some of what's changing.
City of Edmonton
Bad dogs cost more: New animal control bylaws coming into effect in 2014 mean the owners of “nuisance dogs” would have to shell out about $100 each year for a license. (That’s much higher than the $35 for well-behaved pups.) As well, if Rover is pegged as a nuisance dog, any future fines will cost the owner about $150 higher than usual.
What makes a nuisance dog? Any canine that had three or more convictions (over the last three years) for “a) excessive barking b) excessive defecation, or c) failure to control or leash while the dog is off the owner’s property.”
Which means there might be a few dog owners using New Year’s Day teaching their pets to cool it on the barking (or at least changing their diets.)
Shinny hockey at city rec centres: Want to head down to a city-owned rec centre to play some shinny hockey? Well, you still can, but it will cost you extra. In 2014, rec centre memberships will not cover groups who want to come down to play a game of delightfully-disorganized hockey. Instead, you’ll have to pay in advance - prices going up to $10.50 for adults.
But hey, goalies still get in free.
City Fee Changes: Speaking of rec centres, prices are going up for some memberships -- $2.75 for adults with a regular continuous pass, $1.40 for children. Although if you've sprung for the Plus regular membership, you'll actually see your fees go down by around $0.50. There are similar price increases for other city attractions, such as the John Janzen Nature Centre ($0.50) and some city golf courses ($2.00 higher for 18 holes on weekends)
But the most dramatic fee changes are for permits for restaurants wanting to open a sidewalk patio. In an effort to encourage more of them, the city has lowered the fees for a minor patio to $25, down from $295. (Permits for major patios were dropped to $100 from $220.)
Alberta Health Act: Premier Alison Redford has said that she wants to make health care stability her focus in 2014. To that end, the province’s new Alberta Health Act will kick off in January, the same way that most government projects do: with talking.
Public consultations will begin to decide what Alberta’s new Health Charter will say. The province’s new Health Advocate Mary Marshall will start work on Jan. 1st, with the goal to “assist Albertans in navigating the health system.“ The province is looking for public input on the position’s roles and responsibilities, which means the office should be up and running fully by spring.
Tickets for unsafe working conditions: Starting Wednesday, Occupational Health and Safety officers in the province will be able to write tickets on the spot when they notice unsafe conditions at a workplace.
Under the new rules, inspectors will also be able to hand out tickets, much like a traffic ticket, right away -- workers can be dinged with fines between $100 - $200, while employers can be hit with tickets between $300 - $500 for 66 different violations. And, just like traffic tickets, the workers and employers are given the option to fight them in court.
Light bulb ban: Seven years after it was announced, and two years after it was originally supposed to go into effect before being delayed, Canada will ban inefficient light bulbs from store shelves.
It seems like a bright move to many, seeing the switch to more efficient lights as a good way to reduce carbon emissions compared to wasteful traditional bulbs. Still others are incandescent over the thought of giving up their incandescents.
One thing that we’re still in the dark about: firm plans around how to recycle some of the new bulbs like CFLs, which can contain small amounts of mercury. Environment Canada is still working on regulations surrounding disposal.