City of Kelowna will continue to clamp down on public gatherings | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City of Kelowna will continue to clamp down on public gatherings

A protest against COVID-19 restrictions was held in Kelowna's Stuart Park, Feb. 13, 2021.
September 09, 2021 - 6:30 AM

In the past three weeks, City of Kelowna bylaw officers have issued 13 tickets totalling $3,900 to organizers of public events that violate public health orders.

It promises, in a news release issued today, Sept. 8, to keep up that enforcement, even as the new B.C. Vaccine Card is rolled out next week.

“The City acknowledges and supports the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly,” Mayor Colin Basran, said in the news release. “But there are limits to what is considered a protest and we have no tolerance for those who flout the rules for public events that everyone else has to follow.”

READ MORE: 'How dare you': Healthcare workers react to rally against COVID vaccine cards at Kelowna General

The B.C. Supreme Court struck down provincial health orders banning outdoor protests earlier this year.

“However, amplified entertainment, event tents and product sales in city parks are not protests and the appropriate bylaws are enforced when this kind of organized event is held without appropriate permits,” the news release states.

Bylaw officers, first of all, try to get voluntary compliance but will bring in environmental health officers, WorksafeBC or the RCMP if there are repeat offenders.

“The role of the RCMP and the city is to maintain public order and minimize the impact and inconvenience caused by lawful and peaceful protests,” the release states. “Police continue to assess risks at public gatherings, resource them accordingly, and respond to ensure safety, enforce public health orders, and balance the rights of those protesting with the safety of the community. The RCMP will respond if there is an imminent threat or potential for immediate harm to themselves or others.”

In terms of how to enforce the requirements for proof of vaccination at events like concerts or in restaurants or bars, Kelowna RCMP are still evaluating what their role will be, the release says.

READ MORE: Here’s how to get your B.C. COVID-19 vaccination card

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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