North Grenville Council has given municipal by-law officers the authority to address infractions related to the provincial order regarding social gatherings and physical distancing. Under the order, Ontario residents are not allowed to gather in groups of more than five people. Residents are also encouraged to practice physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people and staying at home as much as possible.
Mayor Nancy Peckford said in a press conference last week that Council had decided to direct their by-law officers to educate and raise awareness for physical distancing in the community in order to take some of the pressure off the OPP, which is charged with enforcing the provincial order. “Our by-law officers are well known here,” she said. “There is no harm, from our perspective, in giving them that tool.”
Councillor John Barclay was the only one to vote against the motion. He says he felt the community was doing a good job at adhering to the physical distancing regulations, and getting municipal bylaw involved was not necessary at this time. “I suggested we delay approving it for a week or two,” he told the North Grenville Times after the meeting. The rest of council disagreed with Councillor Barclay and the motion passed in a recorded vote.
CAO Gary Dyke says that, even with their new ability to address provincial order infractions, by-law officers have not been given the authority to issue tickets or lay charges. “It’s more just another avenue for the public to know they can call the municipality if they feel there is something amiss,” he said. “At this point, we won’t be laying charges, we will just be reporting to the police and making recommendations.”