Penticton looking to province for additional bylaw officer to help cope with COVID-19 protocols | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton looking to province for additional bylaw officer to help cope with COVID-19 protocols

August 18, 2020 - 6:00 AM

A Penticton councillor hopes the province can provide some funding to help the city maintain health protocols as it welcomes an influx of tourists.

Penticton Councillor Campbell Watt has a notice of motion before city council’s regular meeting tomorrow, Aug. 18, to have council send a letter to the province asking for additional funds for municipal bylaw officers to assist with compliance of public health orders related to physical distancing and other COVID-19 protocols.

Watt says he’s wary of the fact the South Okanagan and Kelowna “seem to be quite the destination spots,” and with COVID-19 cases on the rise, thought the request appropriate.

Recent travel-related search trends on Google indicate Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos are high on the list of most-searched travel destinations in Canada.

“Additional bylaw could help educate and provide cautionary warnings. It would serve everyone well, and it should be provincially funded,” he says.

He’s reached out to Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, saying it’s actually more of a regional issue than one specific to Penticton.

Watt says he believes the city has already received $3,300 towards an extra officer, but would like to see council issue another letter to the province.

He suggests additional bylaw officers could make people more aware of social distancing and other things they should be doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 rather than issuing fines.

“The drum party on the coast instigated my thought process. Around the same time there was an outbreak in Kelowna as the result of a big party there. I don’t think you want to ruin anybody’s holiday by giving them a big fine, on the other hand you don’t want to ruin someone else’s holiday because they got sick from someone being irresponsible,” he says.

A drum circle on Third Beach in Stanley Park has attracted 100s of youth in recent weeks, raising public ire as social distancing protocols have been ignored.

Watt sees employment of an additional bylaw officer a less expensive option to hiring additional police. It would also be cheaper in the long run if it prevents a run of COVID-19 related hospitalizations.

“The funding model shouldn’t fall on our shoulders. At the end of the day, we’re trying to maintain provincial guidelines. I think additional bylaw presence and some friendly reminders might be a positive thing,” Watt says.

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