How Kelowna bylaw deals with calls about people not social distancing - InfoNews

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How Kelowna bylaw deals with calls about people not social distancing

City of Kelowna Risk Manager Lance Kayfish at a recent news conference with Mayor Colin Basran in the background.
April 16, 2020 - 1:00 PM

Kelowna bylaw officers have responded to about 200 COVID-19-related complaints since the end of March.

That’s an average of about 13 a day, up from about 11 a day in late March when RCMP officers were also responding.

“We followed up on each and every complaint,” Lance Kayfish, the City’s director of community safety, told Wednesay, April 15. “The vast majority have been concerns brought to our attention about people not social distancing.”

Since bylaw officers can only educate, not enforce COVID-19 orders, they do speak to the perceived offenders if they arrive in time. They also speak to the people who filed the complaints.

“We do education on both sides,” Kayfish said. “Someone might be complaining or raising a concern. We will help educate them about what is the difference between what is a provincial health officer order and what is a guideline or a recommendation. We’re finding, in some instances, that people don’t understand that only leaving the house for an essential trip and maintaining distances is a guideline and not a legally enforceable order.”

That means bylaw officers are responding to calls, for example, about two neighbours standing at the end of their driveways talking to each other.

There have also been calls about groups not maintaining safe distancing only to find that they may all be from the same household. Other calls have come in about children gathering in a park or playing basketball.

For the most part, people have responded positively to the bylaw officers, he said.

Out of the 200 complaints, only two were passed on to a health officer for possible enforcement. One dealt with an individual in a building who was given further education. The other had to do with a business that ended up agreeing to close.

Bylaw officers were given the responsibility to deal with COVID-19 complaints at the end of March but do not have any powers to enforce orders. Safe distancing is not an order, just a recommendation.

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