St. Albert City Council approves
new amendments to alarm systems bylaw
Changes to come into effect January 1, 2013

City Council approved amendments to the Alarm System Bylaw 25/2002 on September 24, 2012.

The goal of the approved amendments is to reduce the number of false alarm calls and move towards more of a user-pay service. The bylaw includes the following revisions:
  • To permit only one free false alarm per permit versus the previous process of one free false alarm per calendar year.
  • To invoice permit holders for false alarm calls if the police are dispatched versus the previous process of only invoicing permit holders if the police attend a residence.
  • To require alarm companies or alarm permit holders to verify one-zone alarms before contacting or having the police dispatched. Police will still respond to all multi-zone, panic, duress, glass break, hold up, domestic violence and any alarm at a school or financial institution during business hours.
"The amendments to our bylaw will result in a more efficient and effective use of our policing resources," says Aaron Giesbrecht, manager of policing services, City of St. Albert. "By moving to a user pay service, we are transferring the false alarm costs to the actual permit holders from the general public." In 2011, the cost to taxpayers was estimated at $98,400 per year (dispatcher and operational support time, RCMP officer time, and program administration costs) with $22,830 in revenues (permit fees and alarm responses) to offset the cost.

The amendments will come into effect on January 1, 2013. City Council approved Administration's recommendations at the June 18, 2012 Council meeting and directed them to return in the fall with specific amendments. Administration solicited feedback from residents and alarm companies regarding the proposed changes. Fewer than 10 combined responses were received by the City, with the majority of responses not supporting changes to the Alarm Systems Bylaw and/or did not support alarm system regulations at all.

The City of St. Albert responded to almost 1,200 false alarm calls in 2011. Between 2006 and 2011, this number remained relatively stable with a low of 1,151 false alarms in 2006 to a high of 1,221 in 2009. Estimates show that it takes approximately two hours to complete one false alarm call which includes all levels of policing services. False alarm calls are the second highest type of call the RCMP responds to in St. Albert.

Questions should be directed to Aaron Giesbrecht, Manager of Policing Services for the City of St. Albert at (780) 458-4303.