Calgary peace officers can now ticket those who don't follow health rules
CALGARY -- Level 2 peace officers in Calgary have been given the authority by the province to write tickets to people who don't follow mandatory health guidelines.
Chief Bylaw Officer Ryan Pleckaitis made the announcement during an update Wednesday on how new provincial health measures will impact city services.
"Based on the new restrictions that were announced (Tuesday), I believe we're going to need the extra help," he said. "This means that we now have over 100 peace officers in Calgary Community Standards that can support the Calgary Police Service and Alberta Health Services in making sure there is compliance with the provincial health orders.
"This includes having 15 business licence inspectors who can enforce restrictions in businesses across the city and 75 peace officers who have the ability to enforce all the restrictions under the health order."
The province announced strict new measures coming into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday as part of an effort to lower the spread of COVID-19. Those will see restaurants and bars closed to in-person dining and the temporary shuttering of personal wellness places like hair salons, nail salons, massage and tattoo parlours.
Indoor and outdoor social gatherings are also banned effective immediately, however Albertans are allowed to go for walks, skate or do other outdoor activities in small groups, provided there is spacing between people.
Close contact is limited to members of your household only. Those who live alone can designate up to two close contacts, who are allowed to visit.
Masks are also now mandatory in all indoor public spaces in Alberta.
Places like casinos, bingo halls, gaming entertainment centres, horse tracks, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, legions and private clubs will also be closed.
Retail businesses can remain open but are reduced to 15 per cent of capacity, as are malls. Albertans should also work from home unless an employer deems their presence essential to operations.
The new measures will be in effect for the next four weeks.
City officials previously declared a state of local emergency and the province has declared a state of public health emergency.
The fine for not wearing a mask is $50 and the fine for not following public health orders is $1,200, which could also include a court appearance, where a fine of up to $100,000 can be imposed.
Pleckaitis added tickets are expected to be handed out relating to large, anti-mask, anti-lockdown protests near city hall.
"We did serve two tickets under the Public Health Act for events at Olympic Plaza. One of those was for an event that took place last Wedneday. The second ticket was for another event that took place on Sunday. We also issued another four tickets under bylaws for different offences."
Bylaw officers were also called to a religious gathering on Friday.
"It was taking place in location that did not have an approved development or a building permit. After our investigation, our partners in Calgary building services have now issued three tickets under the land use bylaw," said Pleckaitis.
Each of those tickets carries a $3,000 fine.
"I know a lot of the focus is on the enforcement of the Public Health Act, but I want to raise this to demonstrate that we have a variety of legislative tools that are at our disposal that can be used if activities or services are provided in a manner that jeopadizes the health or safety of others."
A second complaint was made on Sunday about a church service being over capacity and attendees not wearing masks, and Pleckaitis said that investigation is ongoing.
One bit of good news came from the city's update as Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the popular fire pit program is expected to continue, depsite the new health rules.
"There is nothing preventing people from booking one of those fire pits for their own family cohort, and we have lots and lots of bookings and permits going forward, which we will likely honour," he said.
"We are asking people to restrict yourselves to your family cohort."
Nenshi also encouraged Calgarians to support local businesses whenever possible as the next few weeks will be hard for many.
Alberta announced 1,727 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are 654 people in hospital, with 112 of those in ICU. There have been 640 deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.