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Thursday, October 6, 2022
Town hands out fines to people, non-essential businesses

With Easter coming up this weekend, Niagara-on-the-Lake residents are being urged to celebrate the holiday indoors.

“We will celebrate together once we’ve wiped this virus,”  Lord Mayor Betty Disero said during a virtual council meeting Monday. 

“It is so important to stop the spread as quickly as possible. And the only way to do this is to stay home. If you’re walking, walk from home keeping a two-meter distance, wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your face.”

While some residents keep their distance when they’re out exercising in the parks, other community members are parking illegally, climbing over fences and driving around the barricades to play in some of the fenced-off areas, Disero noted.

Over the past weekend, the town received 30 phone calls and 23 emails of complaints regarding properties or incidents of non-compliance with the provincial emergency orders, town’s interim chief administrative officer Sheldon Randall said at the meeting.

Town bylaw officers, who now work seven days a week, patrolled the parks 65 times on the weekend and issued five parking tickets, Randall said. The officers issued two notices and one fine and had to ask 46 different people to “move along.”

The town ticketed three non-essential businesses for operating in violation of provincial rules, Disero told The Lake Report.

Four contract staff continue to help the officers with the enforcement in addition to backup provided by Niagara Region and Niagara Regional Police. If the number of calls continues to increase, there are two additional contract staff available to assist, Randall said.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Niagara region increased to 149 as of Monday, the lord mayor reiterated that those who are returning from abroad, or people who don’t feel well, should stay home and call Telehealth if the symptoms get worse.

“Please comply,” Disero urged during the meeting. “The efforts and the money the town has spent to continually remind those of you who aren’t complying … has a negative impact on all of the members of our community.”

As of Thursday, April 9, NOTL transit will stop running until further notice. Town contracts scheduled to start in April or later will be delayed and any non-essential town projects have been put on hold.

The fire department also received 500 surgical masks from Dr. Rebecca Zabek-Clark and Dr. Kevin Clark of Niagara-on-the-Lake Dental. Additional masks are on the way from overseas but it will take time before they arrive, Randall told councillors.

Coun. Erwin Wiens also provided an update regarding migrant workers. The planes from Jamaica started arriving last week, he said, and any worker arriving in town will be quarantined for 14 days.

Workers won’t be allowed to go on a farm to do any work during a two-week isolation period but they will be compensated for 30 hours per week. Resources, food and other essential items will be brought to bunkhouses.

Every bunkhouse will also have social distancing rules, Wiens said, so that every worker will be two metres apart from the others.

Workers from Mexico are supposed to arrive on April 14, but it’s not confirmed yet, Wiens told councillors. No arrival dates are available yet for those coming from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Islands due to closed borders.

Later during the meeting, town councillors approved a bylaw that gives the town’s director of community and development services Craig Larmour an authority to revoke licenses from short-term rental operators if they are still operating despite being deemed a non-essential business by the province.

Larmour will also be able to prohibit operators from applying or reinstating a license for a year and impose a fine of no more than $750 or any increased amount the province may set for every day on which the rentals operate after the bylaw comes into effect.

Disero also thanked local organizations, businesses and associations for their work and offered condolences to families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic.