A month later, I return to the “scene of the crime” of perhaps the most egregious COVID-19 infraction ticket issued via an overzealous bylaw officer…
Recently, I swung by Oakville, Ontario, to provide an update of the Nelson case. You may recall that on Good Friday last month, Todd Nelson and his three young sons took part in some inline skating at the parking lot of the Glen Abbey Community Centre, which remains shuttered (like just about everything else) due to the Wuhan virus.
Well, wouldn’t you know it? As the Nelson family enjoyed some skating and fresh air, an Oakville bylaw officer happened along and dinged them with one of those $880 COVID-19 tickets (in other words, precisely $220 per skater.)
The Town of Oakville’s response was essentially to say that the law is the law, you understand, and what can you do? (Um, whatever happened to officer’s discretion?)
But I digress, because an astute insider passed along the exact wording of the law that the Nelsons were charged under.
And guess what? It doesn’t appear that the Nelson family broke the law to begin with. Indeed, check out what the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, Regulation 104/20 subsection (4) states:
“For greater certainty, nothing in this order precludes individuals from walking through or using portions of park and recreational areas that are not otherwise closed and that do not contain an outdoor recreational amenity described in subsection (2) baseball diamonds, soccer fields, Frisbee golf locations, tennis courts, basketball courts, bmx parks, off leash dog parks, all portions of parks containing outdoor fitness equipment, outdoor community gardens, outdoor picnic areas, benches, shelters in park, and recreational areas.”
Conspicuous by its absence is any reference to “parking lots.” As well, I have never known a parking lot to be labeled as a “recreational area.”
Gee, could it be that the overreaching bylaw officer made a mistake here?
But when this was pointed out to the city, the ultimate answer was that, well, Mayor Rob Burton had nothing more to say on the matter.
That’s odd – because in my eyes it seems as though the city is enforcing a law that might not… exist?
Can’t wait to see how this one plays out in court…!