Squamish bylaw officers empowered to enforce health officer’s orders | Squamish Chief

Squamish bylaw officers empowered to enforce health officer’s orders

Enforcement includes banning gatherings of 50 or more, but questions linger about smaller groups

An announcement made by B.C.’s public safety minister today (March 26) will allow Squamish’s municipal bylaw officers to enforce orders made by the provincial health officer.

However, there are still some details to be worked out.

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 Previously, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered that gatherings of 50 or more be banned.

But it is unclear if physical distancing measures for smaller groups can be enforced, said Mayor Karen Elliott in an email to The Chief, adding that calls to Squamish RCMP over the last week have been focused on physical distancing for groups “much smaller” than 50.

 “We are seeking clarity from the province, but, at this time, the announcement today does not appear to enable us to enforce that,” Elliott wrote. “Our bylaw officers and Squamish RCMP continue to support the public health officer’s direction through public education and proactive patrols.”

Also on March 26, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth declared, among other things that municipal bylaw officers will be able to enforce the provincial health officer’s orders for business closures and gatherings.

Further, with the exception of the City of Vancouver — he suspended all local states of emergency to ensure consistency with the provincial declaration of a state of emergency. This means that Squamish is unable to pass local bylaws giving the town additional authority.

 "B.C. is in a strong position to effectively respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Farnworth. "Informed by the direction of the provincial health officer, we're taking these critical steps to keep our communities safe, goods moving and essential service workers supported."

Among the other measures, Farnworth also announced the province was banning the secondary resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and other essential supplies; and restricting quantities of items purchased at point of sale.

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