For some time now, a group of people have demonstrated in front of Victoria Hall every Saturday; they don’t like the restrictions mandated by the Province as a result of the pandemic. Police have been patiently warning them and I have declined to give them publicity. But today they went too far and at around 1:50 pm Police issued a ticket. According to a statement by Police Chief Paul Vandegraaf, there were between twenty and twenty-five individuals on scene. He said that “Officers spoke with individuals/the group requesting they comply with the Shutdown Zone gathering limits, and the group was educated on the current provincial restrictions regarding outdoor gatherings.” A previous statement by Police said that “If residents refuse to comply with the guidelines, they will be charged accordingly without hesitation.” The guidelines say that no more than 5 people can participate in an outdoor event.
As a result, one ticket was issued although the fine amount was not stated. [Update: It was reported elsewhere that the fine was $880]
Police had previously advised that Fines for Shutdown Zone violations include:
- Fail to Comply with an order: $750
- Obstruct any Person Exercising a Power in Accordance with an Order: $1,000
- Obstruct any Person Performing a Duty in Accordance with an Order: $1,000
- Organizers of private gatherings that exceed gathering limits can receive a minimum fine of $10,000, and individuals can also receive tickets of $750
A Victim FINE Surcharge is an additional $125 for each of the above charges.
It’s not clear why the group chose to demonstrate outside Victoria Hall – the Town has no control over what the Province mandates.
A version of today’s event happened on March 20 and Pete Fisher gave them some publicity. Go here.
A number of people have asked me why the Police let them break the rules – they have not been wearing masks or respecting social distancing. Up till now, Police have said:
Throughout the pandemic, CPS has taken an educational approach enacting the four Es (Engage, Explain, Educate, and Enforce), working with individuals, groups, and businesses to gain compliance with evolving rules.
The good news is they are finally doing the Enforce part. With only one ticket issued, it was presumably either to someone who refused to disperse or the organizer.