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Edmonton may soon restrict the sale of certain knives at convenience and grocery retailers beginning this fall if an urban planning committee request gets approved. 

While many types of knives are currently sold at stores legally without any federal law or city bylaw restrictions, councillors on Edmonton’s urban planning committee asked the administration to look into amending the city’s business licence bylaw to begin regulating their sale.

“What’s happening here is very alarming,” said Ashley Salvador, councillor for Ward Métis during an urban planning committee meeting on Tuesday.”As we heard today, you walk in, and right next to the chocolate bars is a wall of knives that are designed for harm,” said Ashley Salvador, councillor for Ward Métis.

Bryan LaFleche, president of Crystal Kids Youth Centre also spoke at the meeting to express how prevalent knives, as well UnWTas brass knuckles and bear spray have become amongst the kids at the centre, which they have to confiscate regularly. 

“When we ask them: ‘Why are you carrying a knife? Why are you carrying bear spray?’ The answer every single time is ‘it’s for protection’,” LaFleche told the committee. 

“Our great fear with that is when an 11-year-old child pulls a six-inch knife out of his knapsack and says ‘I need this for protection,’ we spend hours trying to convince them that that knife affords them absolutely no protection.”

Allan Bolstad with the Alberta Avenue Community League purchased several knives at a convenience store on 118th Avenue to present the committee with a slideshow illustrating the intended purpose of the knives being sold. 

“When you hold these knives, when you actually have them in your hand, you realize how lethal that they are, and that they’re designed for one thing and that’s for hurting someone badly, or killing someone,” said Bolstad.  “These aren’t for buttering toast.” 

“They’re for trying to kill someone.”

Bolstad suggested the city create a separate business licence for stores looking to sell   knives, akin to the one currently in place for selling firearms 

He would also like Edmonton police to set a minimum age requirement for buyers.

While the Edmonton Police Service don’t have city-wide statistics of knife-related incidents available, Staff Sgt. Michael Keef told reporters on Tuesday that there are currently few tools in place for police to stop the sale of knives at stores.

Only in situations where knives prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada, such as butterfly knives are being sold, would EPS have the legal grounds to intervene.  

“There’s definitely a gap in what’s being sold versus what’s actually restricted in the Criminal Code,” said Keef. “We’re trying to close that down, so we can make it a little easier to reduce the convenience of being able to buy these on the street.” 

There are no specific blade size restrictions in Canada, however, you may not conceal a knife at any time while carrying it on your person. Under the Criminal Code, any knife that has a blade that opens automatically by gravity, by centrifugal force, or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife (butterfly knives, switchblades, etc.) is prohibited.

According to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, “if a prohibited knife is presented at a pre-board screening checkpoint, protocol requires us to notify the police. This could lead to charges and prosecution to the item’s holder,” it states.