RCMP, City of Kelowna statement on protest
A statement from Mayor Colin Basran and RCMP Superintendent Kara Triance about another proposed downtown rally:
We are extremely disappointed and concerned that many in this group continue to put themselves and others at risk by refusing to follow public health orders.
People have the right to protest peacefully, but they do not have the right to potentially spread a virus that can be life-threatening to people in our community. We’ve seen many times how it only takes one infected individual to cause an outbreak.
“Kelowna is an inclusive city where we respect each other’s rights, and that includes the right to feel safe during a pandemic,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.
We might not convince people who oppose public health orders or who don’t believe in science to wear masks and keep a safe distance from each other, but we hope this statement keeps the silent majority motivated to continue following public health orders.
We are getting closer to the end of this, and now is not the time to lose our focus on respecting and protecting each other from a resurgence in local outbreaks.
“I want to take this opportunity right now to dissuade anyone from attending this march, or from attending the area in protest of the march,” said Kelowna RCMP detachment Supt. Kara Triance.
RCMP continue to proactively educate and dissuade organizers of rallies and large group gatherings. When events go ahead despite these efforts, RCMP attend, assess and take action that balances the right to protest with the necessity to ensure public safety and security. It’s a balance between keeping the peace and upholding the law.
“I want the public to know that the police are taking all steps possible, in our lawful authority, to stop these actions,” said Supt. Triance. “The police are operating under the provisions of the Emergency Program Measures Act including laying fines, and where appropriate, working with the BC Prosecution Service to compel people to court.”
The rally event organizer has been fined three times so far, for a total of nearly $7,000. Those fines will continue and we are in conversation with the provincial government and Crown Counsel to substantially increase the fine amount for people who repeatedly flout the law and put our residents at risk.
This is a relatively small group in comparison to the many thousands of citizens who follow all public health orders. Council and the RCMP are encouraged by this overwhelming community support for our province’s public health orders and we are thankful for your respectful actions to protect each other from harm.