Saint John skateboarders face mandatory helmet bylaw
Enforcing the helmet rule may fall under the province's Motor Vehicle Act
Saint John is trying to impose new rules that would force skateboarders to wear a helmet on city streets.
But city politicians are now discovering they may have a difficult time enforcing the new amendment.
Saint John council unanimously passed a motion to update its skateboarding bylaw earlier this week. The amendment is being called Josh’s law, after an 18-year-old who suffered severe brain trauma after falling from his skateboard in August.
Josh Dillon wasn't wearing a helmet at the time of his accident.
He suffered a seizure on his way to the hospital and was placed in a drug-induced coma. Two days later, part of his skull was removed.
Dillon, who is recovering from his accident at home, said he thinks wearing a helmet should be a personal decision.
But city councillors want to make it mandatory.
"What we're trying to do is we're trying to prevent incidents like Josh's from reoccurring," said Coun. Greg Norton.
Norton was the councillor who presented the motion to amend the city's skateboarding bylaw this week.
The bylaw amendment would impose a $5 fine for anyone failing to wear a helmet while skateboarding.
The existing bylaw prohibits skateboarding on any city street, including the sidewalk, but it doesn't mention helmets.
Saint John's city solicitor says enforcing that amendment may fall under New Brunswick's Motor Vehicle Act, which covers bicycles but not skateboards.
"The motion aims to encourage the same positive trend amongst the skateboarding community that it has amongst the cyclists' community," Norton said.
"And if it means it's provincial legislation that's required well then that's a conversation that we can begin."