Victoria party host calls $2,300 fine for breaching COVID-19 rules 'a bunch of BS'
'He’s welcome to his opinion but he will be paying that fine,' police say
A Victoria man says he will fight the $2,300 fine he received this weekend for hosting a party in his one-bedroom apartment that police say was so packed the windows fogged up.
Nate Christian, 20, said he did nothing wrong and doesn't understand why he was fined for violating the province's public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I had a party, man. Not even a party, it was like a hangout. And everyone's mad at me for it," Christian told CHEK News.
"I don't know what the big hassle is about this. I just think it's a bunch of BS."
Victoria police say Christian got a warning when they first visited his apartment in the 1000-block of Fort Street on Friday night. They say they returned twice that night, ultimately finding the apartment crammed with 30 people who were not practising physical distancing.
"He's welcome to his opinion but he will be paying that fine," said police spokesperson Bowen Osoko. "We are happy to provide evidence as needed."
Police say they believe as many as 60 people attended the party and say Christian failed to document them and their contact information, which is required for tracing purposes should anyone contract COVID-19.
He was fined for violating the COVID-19 Related Measures Act and received an additional $300 victim surcharge.
'Cops really don't like me'
Christian has a different version of events. He said there were just 15 people in the apartment when police returned, and that he was keeping tabs on his guests.
"I was following the rules, I gave everybody hand sanitizers, I took everyone's name down and I showed the cops that and everything and they did not care," he said.
"Cops really don't like me … They're always at my crib."
Police were back at the apartment Sunday after receiving a noise complaint. A person was arrested and fined $230 for obstructing police and violating public health orders.
"That person also got themselves arrested for obstruction. Not a weekend of good decision making there," said Osoko.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases have steadily risen in British Columbia throughout August. On Tuesday, 58 more cases were announced, with 22 people in hospital, including seven in intensive care.
Throughout the summer, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has urged British Columbians to take physical distancing seriously, saying it's one of the first lines of defence against transmitting the disease.
She has encouraged people to take small social gatherings outside.
Christian says he understands why people are mad, and he's sorry for the trouble but says he will fight the ticket in court regardless. He said he will be "a lot more careful" with the rules next time.
He is being evicted at the end of the month and is looking for a new place to live, he added.
"Probably somewhere more like, outskirts where like I can do my own thing without, like, police interfering with my life," Christian said.
In a statement, B.C.'s public safety minister said a person who has been issued a violation ticket may, within 30 days, "dispute the ticket if they don't think they should have received one, don't agree with the amount of the fine, or want to request more time to pay."
Victoria police said people can still get together as long as they follow safety protocols laid out by the provincial health officer. But they also have a word of warning for anyone considering attending large events.
"If someone invites you to a party in a one-bedroom apartment with a DJ and drinking, and invites 40 other people and puts up a poster, don't go," said Osoko.
"In the time of pandemic, when the decisions that people make can kill their friends and family and innocent people who they don't even know … it's not just an act of social responsibility, it's not just an act of caring. Now it's an act that has legal responsibilities."With files from Cathy Kearney, CHEK News