On Tuesday, Apr. 7, 2020, Kingston City Council voted 11-2 to pass a bylaw allowing enforcement of any emergency orders passed by the City under the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act.
Although no local orders have been issued at this time, the bylaw will allow for Municipal Enforcement Officers and Kingston Police to enforce any orders passed in the future. Standard fines for this enforcement were set at $750 to match the Provincial fines, however, minimum individual fines for violation of municipal orders during an emergency were set at $500 for a first offence and are capped at $10,000 for the first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences. Business fines are set between $1,000 and $50,000. Provincial orders can already be enforced but, while Kingston Police have responded to over 75 calls related to COVID-19 protocol violations, no fines have been laid at this time.
During a lengthy and in-depth discussion, councillors raised concerns about how this enforcement will work and the civil liberties of citizens. Members of City Staff stressed that the City has been corresponding and working with Kingston Police and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health on a near daily basis to ensure any municipal orders made will be:
- Decided on with input from all three parties
- Enforced with warnings on first offences
- Made public and spread widely via media, social media and signage so that residents are aware
The full report to Council from Alan McLeod, Acting Director of Legal Services and City Solicitor for the City of Kingston, regarding the bylaw can be found here.
“The priority of Kingston Police is to ensure our community and our members are safe during this unprecedented health crisis,” Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely said in a statement on Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020. “We recognize that this is a stressful time, with many people feeling a sense of uncertainty and instability within our community. Take comfort in knowing that we continue to respond to emergency calls for service, pursue investigations, maintain traffic enforcement, and proactively patrol to ensure the safety of our community.”
As Councillor Peter Stroud pointed out during the Council meeting (which he included in his reasoning for voting against the passing of the bylaw), the orders coming from various levels of government can be very confusing to residents. In an attempt to make it clear what is currently enforceable, the City of Kingston has released the following guidelines.
Under the Quarantine Act or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), the following violations can result in a charge:
- Offences relating to non-essential businesses that remain open, in contravention of the EMCPA
- Offences relating to organized public events and social gatherings of more than 5 people, in contravention of the EMCPA
- Violations of the Quarantine Act where an individual does not abide by mandatory 14-day self-isolation
- Prohibited use of a playground and park amenities in Kingston
While not currently enforceable under the Quarantine Act or EMCPA, the following are directions from health authorities that are considered to be essential in combating the spread of COVID-19:
- Physical (social) distancing of the recommended two metres (six feet)
- Sanitary actions like hand-washing, sanitizing surfaces or coughing/sneezing into one’s arm
- Avoiding non-essential travel, including visits to those outside of your household
How to report infractions
As mentioned earlier, no local orders have been issued at this time under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. All potential infractions of provincial and federal orders should be reported to the following agencies accordingly:
Call Kingston Police non-emergency line at 613-549-4660 for:
- Organized public or social gatherings of more than 5 people
- Use of outdoor recreational amenities (e.g. basketball court, soccer field, park bench, park picnic table, playground structures)
Submit an online complaint to KFL&A Public Health (https://kfla.formbuilder.ca/Environmental-Health/COVID-19Complaints) for:
- Non-essential businesses that are open
- Essential businesses that are not compliant
- Self-isolation for returning travellers, under the Quarantine Act
The full overview of Kingston Police’s response to governmental orders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.
As we head into the Easter long weekend, the City would like to remind residents to adhere to physical distancing directions and stay two metres (six feet) apart at all times while walking through City parks or using City Trails. Residents are also reminded that all Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority conservation areas and trails are closed to the public. The K&P Trail and the Waterfront Trail remain open for public use.
Residents may also notice new fencing, signage, and other measures in City parks, as the use of public parks is currently prohibited. Use of any closed park amenities, including playground equipment, benches, basketball and other sports courts, is prohibited and enforceable.
“We understand that this is a stressful time for many in our community, but by following the directions of health authorities, we can work together to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said in a statement on Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020. “It’s also important to emphasize that physical distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Take some time to connect with a friend, relative or neighbour by phone, email or video chat.”