Dozens of complaints made in Kelowna for violations of pandemic orders - InfoNews

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Dozens of complaints made in Kelowna for violations of pandemic orders

This photo was taken before any COVID-19 safe distancing rules were put in place.
April 01, 2020 - 1:30 PM

Kelowna RCMP and bylaw officers have fielded about 100 calls over the past nine days related to COVID-19.

About 85 per cent of those dealt with people not keeping safe distances from others, often in parks that are officially closed, Darren Caul, the city’s community safety director, told yesterday, March 31.

“The vast majority of complaints in relation to congregating and physical distancing relate to much smaller groups,” he said. “We’re seeing complaints about people using tennis courts, playing basketball, using the skate park and playgrounds - though there are a minority of complaints relating to larger gatherings – a house party, for example.”

The rest of the complaints were about whether certain businesses should remain open or were not seen to be providing safe distancing.

Last week, the provincial government announced that bylaw officers will be used throughout the province to help enforce orders put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Caul said bylaw officers have no additional powers under that measure. That means their primary response to complaints is to educate those violating the rules – when they can get to them in time. A number of groups dispersed by the time officers arrived.

While they can’t issue tickets, bylaw officers can report serious or repeat violations to Interior Health which can levy fines that could exceed $25,000 and include jail time.

Up to now, both the RCMP and bylaws have responded to calls but, by the end of the week, the RCMP will redirect all COVID-19 related calls to bylaws.

These calls are increasing the workload for bylaw officers who have already stepped up street patrols to make sure businesses that are closed are not being vandalized or broken into.

In conjunction with the RCMP, notices were sent to business earlier this week advising them, if they are closing, to remove goods and valuables from their windows and, preferably from the buildings. It also suggested cleaning up around the outsides of buildings so tools or rocks that might be used for breaking in are not readily available.

So far, Caul said, buildings have not been boarded up and he had no indication of any increases in vandalism or break-ins.

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