The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth (pictured) issued a ministerial order on March 26 which limits the authority of local bylaw officers to assisting provincial public health officers with enforcement or rules around COVID-19. (File photo).

The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth (pictured) issued a ministerial order on March 26 which limits the authority of local bylaw officers to assisting provincial public health officers with enforcement or rules around COVID-19. (File photo).

North Cowichan has received 10 complaints regarding COVID-19 rules so far

But bylaw officers lack enforcement authority

Bylaw officers in North Cowichan had received 10 complaints from the public in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic between March 30 and April 5.

However, according to a staff report written by Mark Frame, the municipality’s general manager of financial and protective services, only seven of the complaints were actionable due to lack of information for follow up by bylaw officers.

Some of the concerns from the public included travellers who returned to the area prior to March 26 when the new federal Quarantine Act came into force and are not self-isolating, and those returning after March 26 who are not quarantining themselves, as is now required.

RELATED STORY: CANADIANS MUST WAIT WEEKS BEFORE COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS CAN BE LOOSENED: TRUDEAU

Other concerns raised included the handling of food containers and bags at fast-food drive-through service windows, and private gyms that were still operating at the time; although all the gyms connected to the complaints have closed as of April 9.

But Frame points out the limited authority bylaw officers have to enforce the new rules and laws around the COVID-19 crisis.

He said the the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth issued a ministerial order on March 26 regarding the enforcement of provincial health orders which limits the authority of local bylaw officers to assisting provincial public health officers with enforcement.

A couple from the Cowichan Valley who had recently returned from an overseas trip created a local controversy when they refused to self isolate, even when North Cowichan bylaw officers paid them a visit after receiving complaints and provided them with information on the new rules.

RELATED STORY: UNCLEAR IF COWICHAN COUPLE REFUSING TO SELF ISOLATE FACING PENALTY

Exactly who was responsible for the enforcement of the Quarantine Act, which calls for hefty fines and even lengthy prison terms for those who refuse to quarantine themselves after returning from trips, was unclear at the time, but the RCMP has since been asked by the Public Health Agency of Canada to help with the national coordination and enforcement of the Act.

“Arrests would be a last resort, based on the circumstance and the officer’s risk assessment,” the RCMP said in a statement.

Information on just how many Canadians have actually been charged under the Quarantine Act, and what charges they face, is not currently available, but the federal government announced last week that 23 Canadians were being held in quarantine camps across the country.

RELATED STORY: DUNCAN COWICHAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE STEPS UP TO HELP BUSINESSES DURING PANDEMIC

Frame said in his report that during North Cowichan’s bylaw officers’ patrols of public facilities and popular parks and trails, they have had numerous conversations with individuals who continue to use the skate parks, or who fail to comply with the provincial social distancing measures.

“Although officers have found the individuals to be polite and compliant when confronted, they are not convinced that individuals will continue to comply in the future as the weather turns nicer and the public grows tired of staying home,” Frame said.

“However, it is clear from [the ministerial order] that obtaining ministerial approval on a bylaw to regulate social distancing on public lands would be very unlikely.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Moira Mercer spent her summer riding her e-bike around Cowichan Lake and beyond, collecting any empties she found along the way. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan 2020 in review — conclusion

What were your top stories from 2020?

Staff meetings can be difficult when everyone has his own agenda. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Most Read