BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville and Cold Lake area has only seen one fine handed out in relation to the public health orders.
"We gave out one violation after multiple attempts to educate the subject and gain voluntary compliance,” noted Bonnyville RCMP Sgt. Kim Hillier, last week.
According to Town of Bonnyville CAO Bill Rogers, the municipality didn't deal with any complaints during the month of December.
A public health state of emergency was announced by Premier Jason Kenney on Nov. 24, the second since the pandemic started in Alberta in March. There were a number of new restrictions announced, including a 25 per cent capacity on many businesses and an outright ban on all indoor social gatherings.
It was also announced in November that 700 peace officers across the province would be able to issue fines against people who broke the rules.
Stronger public health measures were announced at the beginning of December where all indoor and outdoor social gatherings were prohibited, businesses were required to either close, reduce capacity, or limit their in-person access, among others.
When a complaint is received regarding someone breaking a public health order, there are a number of steps that happen before a fine is handed out.
Matt Janz, general manager of environmental and protective services for the MD of Bonnyville, explained what happens during council’s Jan. 20 meeting.
“First, the call goes to the health officer with Alberta Health Services. They refer it back to the RCMP, they follow up to ensure if it’s high risk or not; if it’s not high risk, then that will be handed to our community peace officers to go investigate and to follow up with them,” Janz detailed.
According to Janz, MD peace officers only had two complaints to follow-up within December and no fines were handed out.
“Most complaints were leading up to a party or event, so the officers did approach the people prior to and said that there was a concern by the public that there was going to be an event held and those weren’t held at that time.”
He added, “The officers went to the place and talked to the people prior to and just were told what was allowed and what wasn’t allowed. There have been no tickets written by our peace officers.”
Cold Lake RCMP Sgt. Ryah Howrish said there were also no fines handed out by their members in December either.
“All concerns were addressed with the assistance of the public health inspector and our community peace officers.”
Both Howrish and Janz emphasized education is the main priority when it comes to public health orders.
“Our role is to educate,” Janz added. “Out at the ski hill, it’s the education part making sure that people are following the rules and at the same time having that presence so that people are adhering to the rules.”
Lakeland This Week reached out to the City of Cold Lake to ask if their peace officers responded to any complaints or handed out any fines, but didn’t have a response by our press deadline.