Scenario by PLE Team volunteer Stefan Vernier (perhaps dreaming of summer days…)

Photo used with permission from Alyssa Katherine Faoro, 
On a warm summer night, three friends are hanging out in the parking lot of their local pizza shop. After spending a couple of hours talking to each other, Todd, who is 15, says that he’s getting bored. He suggests that the three of them head down to the park near their community centre, where they can pass around a soccer ball. Kyle and Thomas, who are also 15 years old, agree that they’d have a much better time playing soccer at the park.

When they arrive at the park, they realize that the street lights that illuminate the soccer field have already been turned off. “We’re too late guys,” says Kyle. “The city turns off the lights at 12 a.m.”

Slightly disgruntled, they stare at each other for a few seconds, hoping that the other person would think of something else that they could do to pass the time. Suddenly Todd speaks up. “Hey, you know what would be really fun?” He pauses for a moment, making sure that Kyle and Thomas are listening to what he has to say. “What if we took a swim in the community centre’s outdoor swimming pool, just for a bit?”

Intrigued by the idea, Thomas shouts ecstatically, “Yea, let’s go for it!” 

Kyle, on the other hand, did not share the same excitement. “But they close the pool after 10 p.m. There’s a lock on the front gate for a reason you know,” he says. “I don’t want to get in trouble, guys. The sign on the fence says that we can’t enter when the pool is closed and that we could be fined if we get caught.”

“Okay, suit yourself then,” says Todd, as he and Thomas climb the fence and jump into the pool, which is run by their city’s Parks and Recreation department. The two of them spend another half-hour playing in the pool, while Kyle stands idle outside the fence.

Suddenly, a police car pulls up outside the community centre. An officer walks out and notices the boys swimming.


Trespass to Property Act

Ontariohas a law that makes trespassing illegal.  A trespasser is someone who is on or is using land that doesn’t belong to them without permission of the person or people who are responsible for and who control that land.  Todd and Thomas are clearly trespassing according to Ontariolaw, because the locked gate and fence make it clear that the pool shouldn’t be accessed without permission. The signs also make this clear.

Todd and Thomas could be charged with trespassing (“enter premise where entry prohibited”).  Since they are breaking provincial law, the section of the Provincial Offences Act that applies to people under age 16 would apply if they were charged.  (This is different from being charged with a criminal offence, where the Youth Criminal Justice Act applies to people under 18.)  There are a number of differences between the treatment of adults who are charged with provincial offences and young people who are charged with the same offences.  One difference is that young peoples’ identities are protected from publication.  Another is that there is a limit on penalties for offences:  the maximum a person under age 16 can be fined is $1000, whereas the maximums for adult fines can be much higher. But remember, provincial offences are different than criminal offences (that is a whole other topic!).

We’ve covered the curfew issue on the blog before: The Child and Family Services Act says that parents of children under sixteen cannot permit their children to be without an authorized adult in public places between midnight and six am.  Kyle, Todd, and Thomas all fall under this Act, since they are 15.  They shouldn’t have been at the swimming pool or even at the park at this time of night. If caught, the police may be take these boys home or even bring them to a children’s aid society.

Municipal Bylaws
The sign outside the swimming pool probably refers to the municipal bylaws that regulate public swimming pool access in Todd’s city.  (We explained municipal bylaws previously here!) For example, in Toronto, municipal bylaws say that people must not use public swimming pools outside designated times, and that they must obey the signs posted in or adjacent to the pool.  The police officer can tell Todd and Thomas that they must leave the pool.  The police could also charge these youth with breaching a municipal by-law and the end result could be that they must pay a fine.  As in trespassing, the rules about young people under Provincial Offences Act would apply.