Edmonton hands out nearly 100 mask bylaw fines over the holidays
In 1-month period, municipal peace officers also gave out 9 tickets under Alberta Public Health Act
City of Edmonton peace officers issued nearly 100 tickets in a four-week period to people violating the face-covering bylaw.
Adam Laughlin, interim city manager, gave council's emergency advisory committee meeting an update Thursday on the city's COVID-19 efforts.
Laughlin said officers gave out 98 tickets and issued 1,200 warnings related to the mask bylaw between Dec. 10 and Jan. 4.
"Our first step is education but we feel like we've been doing that for a while," Laughlin said. "If there's a repeat non-compliance with the restrictions then our folks are prepared to take that enforcement step."
Laughlin said he didn't have specific locations where officers gave out tickets over the span of a month.
"It's probably a general sweep that our folks are doing," Laughlin said during a news conference after the meeting.
"For our services, transit, around some of the outdoor amenities — those are probably higher priority in terms of confirming compliance with the restrictions."
The fine for violating the mask bylaw is $100.
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The committee also heard that from Dec. 10 to Jan. 4, officers also issued nine tickets for provincial Public Health Act infractions.
That could include people gathering outside their households and businesses allowing too many people into stores, over the mandated capacity of 15 per cent of fire code regulations.
Municipal bylaw and peace officers are working with police and Alberta Health Services environmental and public health inspectors, Laughlin noted.
Mayor Don Iveson said he believes overwhelmingly most people are following the restrictions and heeding the face covering bylaw.
"When they're not, there's a courteous conversation about that that usually resolves it one way or another."
Iveson said sometimes people forget.
"I've done it," he said. "I've realized I was walking into a business and I left my mask in the car and turned around and came back."
During the emergency advisory committee meeting, councillors raised concerns on several social issues, including an increase in violence.
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Coun. Aaron Paquette said he's noticed people growing frustrated with the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
"What we're seeing is a normalization of violence, and a normalization of public violence," he said.
Edmonton police Supt. Dean Hilton acknowledged crime has increased and cases of domestic violence are up from last year and the three-year average.
"We're definitely looking at strategies to address those things," Hilton told the committee, adding 2020 was a bad year for homicides. "We've redeployed various resources into certain areas."
Hilton said police are trying to be proactive and anticipate possible areas where violence is more likely to occur.
The committee also heard that four temporary COVID-19 shelters are at between 80 and 90 per cent capacity on any given night.
The 250 beds at the Edmonton Convention Centre are almost always full, Laughlin said.
A recent outbreak at the ECC was deemed over on Jan. 6, he added.
The 120 beds at the Commonwealth Stadium, run by Hope Mission are at 80 to 100 per cent capacity;
The 82 beds at the Mustard Seed shelter off 99th Street in the Ritchie neighbourhood are usually full.
The 72 spaces at the Edmonton isolation facility for people who've tested positive for COVID-19 were full six weeks ago and is now between 35 and 50 per cent capacity.
Iveson also said it's crucial Edmontonians continue to follow guidelines, even if they're feeling pandemic fatigue.
"This virus feeds off of our exhaustion," Iveson said during the news conference. "When we're tired we're prone to letting our guard down, or taking short cuts."