iN VIDEO: Kelowna RCMP, Mayor ask people to avoid upcoming anti-COVID-19 restriction rally | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: Kelowna RCMP, Mayor ask people to avoid upcoming anti-COVID-19 restriction rally

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and RCMP Supt. Kara Triance are seen in this screenshot from a YouTube video, posted Friday, April 30, 2021. The pair praised citizens for their efforts to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 infection, while saying the role of police following a recent court ruling affirms the right of people to gather and protest.
Image Credit: YOUTUBE/City of Kelowna
April 30, 2021 - 9:56 AM

The mayor of Kelowna and the city's top cop are asking residents to avoid an anti-COVID-19 restriction rally planned for this weekend citing safety concerns.

As a third wave of COVID-19 infections puts pressure on health services in British Columbia, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran praised citizens for their efforts to protect themselves and others from infection, while RCMP Supt. Kara Triance said the role of police following a recent court ruling affirms the right to gather and protest, according to a City of Kelowna press release.

“We have always said we respect the right to protest peacefully, and the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in March that the outdoor rallies we’ve seen on weekends in Kelowna are in fact legal,” Basran said in the release. “At the same time, we have also always said we wish people at these rallies would follow public health orders like everyone else – and that message has not changed."

On March 18, the B.C. Supreme Court struck down the Public Health Order related to outdoor gatherings or protests. The court determined the order infringed on sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishing the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

Given this court ruling, the RCMP approach is to maintain order and minimize the impact and inconvenience that lawful and peaceful protests create for the rest of the community.

“The role of the police during this pandemic response has been challenging and ever changing,” Supt. Triance said in the release. “We continue to attempt to dissuade protests and gatherings, but when they take place, the RCMP is present to ensure the safety of the public, and the protestors, and to prevent confrontations.”

She said the RCMP work to find a balance between education and compliance checks or fines. They work with community partners in support of COVID-19 compliance checks, investigate complaints and issue fines where appropriate.

READ MORE: Kelowna man opposing anti-mask rallies happy to see others join the cause

On March 25, the province announced an increase for individual fines to $575 from $230 for non-compliance with health orders.

“Law enforcement in a large crowd is a challenge. In these cases, best practices for police are to make sure the event remains peaceful and that people remain respectful towards each other,” Supt. Triance said.

Basran said protesters represent a fraction of people compared to the many thousands of Kelowna citizens who follow all public health orders.

“With dangerous new variants in this third wave of the pandemic, everyone should wear a mask, keep a safe distance from each other and limit travel in our community – or to our community,” he said. “We all want the same thing – to get through this pandemic as safely and quickly as we can,” Supt. Triance said.


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