B.C. issues bylaw officer guidelines for targeting re-sellers

B.C. has given the province’s municipal bylaw officers guidelines on how to approach the ticketing of the likes of people re-selling essential items during the pandemic.

Last week, the province ordered the re-selling of essential items – such as face masks – as an offence, which could result in a fine or even an arrest by police.

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The B.C. government also warned that people not adhering to the maximum 50-people rule for gatherings could be dealt with similarly.

As outlined in provincial orders issued last week, bylaw enforcement officers do not have the ability to detain an individual as a result of a contravention or suspected contravention of a public health order, or issue a fine or penalty, including an administrative penalty, under the Public Health Act.

Local bylaw and other compliance officers can, however, provide enforcement assistance for the orders by:

* monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public by a public health order;

* providing warnings, information and advice to businesses and members of the public about public health orders, including warnings to businesses and members of the public who may be acting in contravention of a public health order; and

* providing information on potential contraventions of a public health order for follow up by health authorities.

To strengthen compliance and enforcement measures, B.C. is redeploying provincial compliance staff from other ministries to support local governments.

This includes liquor and cannabis control and licensing inspectors, gambling enforcement and investigations officers, and community safety personnel.

Compliance officers will provide public health agencies with recommendations and advice on whether further action is necessary.

"Local governments are key partners in ensuring the provincial health officer's orders are obeyed so people in our communities can stay healthy," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

"It's important that communities, and those responsible for compliance, have clear and consistent guidelines to enforce the provincial health officer's orders so businesses can adapt their workplaces and help keep people safe."

Public concerns regarding compliance with the orders should be directed to local governments, who can dispatch bylaw officers for follow up.

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