Bylaw officers to patrol popular Calgary parks to ensure physical distancing
CALGARY -- Bylaw officers will begin patrolling popular Calgary parks to ensure people are adhering to physical distancing guidelines and keeping groups under the 15-person maximum during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Monday.
"Our department philosophy is compliance before enforcement but at this point, we've relayed the message consecutively and in some situations where we cannot get compliance, then we will be looking at issuing fines under the Public Health Act," said Ryan Pleckaitis, the city's chief bylaw officer.
Albertans can be fined up to $1,000 for violating the Public Health Act, and courts can impose an additional $100,000 penalty for a first offence and up to a $500,000 penalty for subsequent offences.
Three tickets were issued by Calgary police over the weekend, for people "showing a blatant disregard for public safety," said Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Tom Sampson.
The city declared a state of local emergency on March 15 — as have a number of towns and cities in the province — which was renewed last week, meaning all city-run facilities like recreation centres and libraries are closed.
All public events have been cancelled until June 30 and all permits for events in parks have also been cancelled.
Parks and pathways remain open, however, and the city has closed some downtown streets over the last two weekends to give pedestrians and cyclists more room for separation.
Playgrounds in the city are also closed. The province has also declared a state of public health emergency.
Carpooling remains OK, said Samspon but safety measures should still be taken.
"Yes, it's OK for you to travel in a vehicle with someone other than a family member or a household member, but we are suggesting if you're going to travel with somebody … you can put the driver in the front left seat and you can put a passenger in the rear right side," he said.
With the weather improving, Sampson said annual street sweeping is set to begin. Signs will be placed in neighbourhoods letting drivers know when to move their vehicles, and a schedule will be posted online.
"We know it's going to be more challenging this year, so many of us are at home or working for home, but we know that together, we can make this work," said Sampson.
The city has also added additional resources to its website for Calgarians who are self-isolating, featuring crafts and games for the whole family, as well as activities for staying active and resources for maintaining mental and physical health.
Calgarians are advised to stay home whenever possible and to remain at least two metres away from other people when in public.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are 1,250 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province and there have been 23 deaths attributed to the virus.