Bylaw officers write 43 tickets as civil liberties group accuses city of ‘overpolicing’
Ottawa bylaw officers rung up more than 40 people over the weekend for not adhering to the physical distancing laws, but the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is accusing the city of “overpolicing.”
There were 43 tickets issued, including two tickets totalling $2,010 issued to someone who was in a closed park and wouldn’t give his name to authorities, Mayor Jim Watson said during a press conference Monday.
Bylaw officers also booked a pub and a barbershop for being open when they should have been closed under a provincial government emergency order, Watson said.
Another woman tore down caution tape around playground structures so others could use them, he said.
Some residents have been miffed about receiving tickets for being in closed parks. The paths remain open for people to cut through parks, but the surrounding park space is closed.
Watson said bylaw officers have discretion about whether to issue a ticket or simply give a warning.
“They’re trained to be reasonable,” Watson said, but he has seen that warnings haven’t been preventing people from gathering in closed parks.
Anthony Di Monte, the general manager of emergency and protective services, said there were 526 calls to bylaw services between Friday and Sunday related to the coronavirus-related emergency measures. Those were just the complaints that officers could respond to, he said.
“I think the bylaw team is doing a very reasonable job,” Di Monte said.
In a letter to Watson and Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, Canadian Civil Liberties Association executive director Michael Bryant accused the city of padding its revenues using a ticket blitz.