British Columbia

Anti-mask protest in Kelowna, B.C., nets organizer $2,300 fine

Kelowna RCMP have issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest and march in the city’s downtown Saturday that contravened provincial public health orders related to COVID-19.

Fine for Saturday’s rally marks the second time police in Kelowna have issued one for similar event

Around 100 people gathered in downtown Kelowna, B.C., on Saturday to protest against provincial health orders aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. (Anita Sthankiya/CBC)

Kelowna RCMP say they have issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest and march in the city's downtown Saturday that contravened provincial public health orders related to COVID-19.

It's the second $2,300 fine police in the city have issued for gatherings of people opposed to measures meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Witnesses said around 125 people were at Saturday's rally, with few wearing masks.

RCMP said in a release officers attended the event to "ensure the safety of the protesters and the rest of the public."

RCMP said they attended a rally involving around 100 people in downtown Kelowna on Saturday to ensure the safety of the protesters and the public. (Heather Friesen)

Police said that people in Canada have a right to protest, but that officers have to balance that right with the potential for health risks associated with large public gatherings.

"If the activities being engaged in are in violation of the provincial public health orders, those involved can face fines," said the release.

RCMP are not releasing the name of the organizer who was fined.

'Orders are not optional'

In December, RCMP issued a $2,300 fine against the organizer of a similar rally in downtown Kelowna which drew about 1,000 people.

Also in December, Kelowna RCMP said they handed a $2,300 ticket to a representative of a religious congregation for a large gathering held on Dec. 19.

Participants at a rally in Kelowna on Saturday Jan. 9, 2021 carry signs protesting mandatory face masks and other pandemic health orders. (Heather Friesen)

RCMP said it encourages everyone to adhere to provincial health orders which currently include the suspension of outdoor gatherings including rallies or protests.

"These orders are not optional," said Supt. Kara Triance in the release.

"We encourage everyone to voluntarily comply with the provincial health orders, so enforcement is not required."

This week the province said businesses and individuals flouting provincial and federal COVID-19 orders have been fined almost half a million dollars cumulatively since the pandemic began.

With files from Anita Sthankiya, Chris Walker and Brady Strachan

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