Enforcement at public gatherings and post-passport rollout

September 8, 2021

News Release

With a new vaccine passport rolling out in the next week and as public gatherings continue against provincial public health orders, the City of Kelowna is providing information about enforcement roles.

City of Kelowna bylaw enforcement continues at public gatherings where organizers have failed to obtain the appropriate event-related permits.

“The City acknowledges and supports the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “But there are limits to what is considered a protest and we have no tolerance for those who flout the rules for public events that everyone else has to follow.”

Earlier this year, the BC Supreme Court struck down a provincial public health order banning outdoor protests. As a result, outdoor gatherings for the purpose of public protest cannot be prohibited and participants cannot be ticketed or fined. 

However, amplified entertainment, event tents and product sales in City parks are not protests and the appropriate bylaws are enforced when this kind of organized event is held without appropriate permits.  

In the past three weeks, event organizers in Kelowna were issued 14 fines totalling $3,900 for non-compliance with the City’s Outdoor Events Bylaw.

The role of the RCMP and the City is to maintain public order and minimize the impact and inconvenience caused by lawful and peaceful protests. Police continue to assess risks at public gatherings, resource them accordingly, and respond to ensure safety, enforce public health orders, and balance the rights of those protesting with the safety of the community.  

Meanwhile, enforcing compliance with the new vaccine passport rules will be handled by a variety of agencies that have the appropriate legislative authority to respond.

The RCMP will respond if there is an imminent threat or potential for immediate harm to themselves or others.

“This a new and dynamic situation and while B.C.’s proof of vaccination program is finalized, the RCMP is determining our role in this process,” said RCMP Supt. Kara Triance. “The RCMP is committed to working with our partners to ensure the safety of our community as we move forward together.”

For non-compliant businesses, Bylaw Services will continue to respond, educate and attempt to get voluntary compliance. In cases of continued non-compliance, Bylaw Services will engage the appropriate enforcement agencies, such as Environmental Health Officers, WorksafeBC, Police, or other provincial peace officers with the legislated authority to respond.

The City encourages all Kelowna residents and visitors to get vaccinated and follow all provincial public health orders to keep themselves, their loved ones and all people in Kelowna safe from COVID-19.