City of Vancouver’s enforcement ability strengthened under State of Emergency bylaw

Kennedy Stewart Official photo

VANCOUVER City Council on Monday bvoted to give City of Vancouver staff the power to enforce orders under its existing State of Emergency bylaw, including the ability to prosecute breaches of emergency orders, and the ability to issue tickets.

The bylaw revisions passed today would allow for $1,000 tickets and prosecution of breaches of the order subject to fines of up to $50,000.

This bylaw is one tool in the City’s toolkit to help limit the spread of COVID-19. It should help ensure businesses follow the orders issued under the bylaw.  

Last week, the City of Vancouver shut down all dine-in options at local establishments. This is currently the only order under the bylaw. Over the past two days, inspectors visited more than 1,600 restaurants and identified 14 cases of non-compliance with the order. The City said it is pleased to see how responsive restaurant owners have been to date and thanks the vast majority of businesses that are taking direction from the City and from public health officials seriously.

“The time for asking nicely is over,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Monday. “Today, Council passed new enforcement measures including fines of up to $50,000 for those who continue to believe the rules don’t apply to them. This is serious. Now is the time to shut down, stay put, and save lives.”

Some people in Vancouver continue to gather in large crowds at parks and beaches. In addition to previously-announced facilities and playground closures, the Vancouver Park Board is now closing parking lots at high-traffic outdoor destinations. Beaches and parks remain open, but may be closed and an order may be issued in the near future if people continue to gather in groups at these locations.

“The intention of gaining enforcement tools is to ensure that businesses comply with orders. We have no intention at this time to ticket people for not complying with social distancing,” said City Manager Sadhu Johnston. “We would prefer that people follow the advice given by public health, and the City’s orders under the local State of Emergency, however for businesses that are not compliant, we will enforce the orders, issue tickets and prosecute breaches if it comes to that. If people ignore social distancing, we will consider issuing and enforcing orders, but that is not underway at this point.”

All City of Vancouver facilities and service delivery information can be found on the City’s website at vancouver.ca/covid19.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in people should:

· Stay home

· Wash hands frequently and avoid touching their face

· Maintain a two-metre distance between themselves and others

The City said in a statement: “We appreciate there is a lot of information circulating at this time, and not all of it is coming from verified sources. All updates from the City of Vancouver will be noted within our news releases, on our website and our verified social feeds. Residents are encouraged to follow @CityofVancouver on Twitter to receive the latest updates on COVID-19 response.”