City says Toronto residents should now know about COVID-19 rules

Toronto law enforcement officers have issued more than 1,675 tickets since the start of the pandemic and the city says residents should now know the rules to comply with restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s too late in the game not to be educated,” said Carleton Grant, executive director of municipal licensing and standards for the City of Toronto.

“I think everyone should be aware of what’s going on and the rules. That’s why our model of enforcement is changing all the time, but it has gone from an educational model to a model of enforcement to charges. ”

According to data provided by the city, it has received thousands of complaints about people and businesses not following the COVID-19 protocol since March.

While some experts have criticized the city for not cracking down harder, as other jurisdictions have done, Grant has defended the city’s enforcement record over the past nine months.

‘These are not parking tickets’

Grant said there are many provincial laws and city bylaws in place, all designed to reduce community transmission of the virus, and the city wants the charges applied.

“These are not parking tickets. It’s very different and a lot more complex, ”Grant said.

“It’s important to know that enforcement is a process. It is not immediate. There are a number of steps that take place. It is complicated. It can be seen by the public as simple, ”he said.

“It’s anything but simple. And to lay charges you have to do it in such a way that you gather the evidence and those charges will stand. We’re not going to charge for the sake of the charge. We want our fees to stick and be efficient. ”

Carleton Grant, executive director of municipal licensing and city standards, said: “It’s too late in the game not to be educated. (Martin Trainor / CBC News)

The rules, however, have changed frequently over the past nine months.

On November 23, Toronto moved into the province’s gray lockdown zone, which means there are restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, rules for restaurants, limits on church services, funerals and weddings; and restrictions on retail stores and malls.

Grant said law enforcement officers are issuing tickets more frequently now than they started out when trying to educate people.

“Our goal is always to achieve compliance. These are the rules. You must be aware of the rules. Please follow them. Failure to follow them after a warning will result in a charge. ”

The city has 200 enforcement officers. At the start of the pandemic, around 92% of its agents were focused on complying with COVID-19 rules, but that number is now closer to 60%, he said.

Toronto police take the lead in cracking down on large gatherings. Toronto Public Health takes the lead in inspecting bars and restaurants, while the city’s municipal licensing and standards division takes the lead in compliance at parks and businesses deemed non-essential.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who represents Ward 16 of Don Valley East, said, “I think at a general level the city needs more officers. (CBC)

A Toronto councilor, however, believes the city needs more bylaws officers.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who represents Ward 16 of Don Valley East, said there were not enough law enforcement officers before the pandemic hit.

The city has a lot of problems with short-term rentals, rooming houses and property inspections, but law enforcement officers are overworked because there are not enough staff.

“The size of the app is simply staggering,” he said.

Minnan-Wong pointed out, for example, that there are thousands of restaurants in Toronto. There are also shops, parks, public spaces, and in summer there were beaches to watch out for. The city only has 200 law enforcement officers for the entire city, he said.

“I think what we’re doing is trying to do our best with the resources that we have,” he said. “I think at a general level the city needs more officers. ”

Complaints must be dealt with, says advisor

But he said the city needs to respond faster and more effectively to enforce rule violations.

“I think the community is a bit annoyed and worried that when a law is drafted it is not enforced,” he said.

“If this law is not applied, there is no point in having it. Because if no one wants to enforce the law, residents shouldn’t even bother to call. And then you just have people doing whatever they want in the community. And that doesn’t make sense, ”he says.

“Residents of the City of Toronto should expect a certain standard and a certain standard. This means that when they call a regular complaint, they should expect it to be taken seriously, ”he added.

“I think the residents feel that they are not taken seriously and that this leads to a certain level of frustration. And they have the right to have their complaints dealt with. ”

The restrictions currently in place in Toronto include:

  • No indoor gatherings with anyone outside a person’s home, but people who live alone may have close contact with another household.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.
  • Restaurants are limited to take-out, drive-thru, and delivery only.
  • Religious services, funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors.
  • Non-essential shops and malls are limited to curbside pickup or delivery only.
  • Pharmacies, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, grocery stores, essential services and schools remain open.
  • Gyms are closed.
  • All indoor recreation programs provided by the City of Toronto are canceled.

The city has produced a “COVID-19: Lockdown Guide for Residents of Toronto” to help people sort out the dos and don’ts in these lockdown times.

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