'We are at our limit ' Bylaw officers inundated with businesses straying from COVID restrictions
BARRIE, ONT. -- Barrie bylaw officers have been inundated by requests to investigate businesses and public gatherings that may run afoul of Ontario's stay-at-home order.
The city's manager of enforcement says about 220 complaints have poured in over the last six days.
"We are at our limit as far as responding to them," Tammy Banting says.
Banting explains that Barrie police are helping with some calls, but it's a lot for a team of eight bylaw agents to handle on top of responsibilities unrelated to the pandemic.
Banting notes that when an enforcement officer shows up at a business to follow up on a complaint, they don't whip out the citation pad right away.
"We're taking the educational approach," she says. "If we have not been there before, each of them is provided 48 hours notice to comply with the legislation, and then after that, we would take further action."
The action could mean a ticket of $750 for an individual breaking provincial COVID-19 rules or $1,000 for a corporation.
Banting says the city has issued seven such tickets since Saturday.
Business owners who continue to violate rules after being issued be a ticket could be called into a court process where penalties could go north of $100,000.
Bylaw officers have encountered some business owners inadvertently running outside regulations, while other owners have maintained service as an outright act of opposition.
Banting understands that Barrie residents may want to support neighbourhood businesses through tough times but encourages them to do it within the rules; by grabbing a dinner to eat a home from a restaurant or ordering personal care products from a salon.