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Waterloo bylaw recaps charges, summonses issued over Uptown anti-lockdown protests

27 charges related to all protests, several court summonses issued under stay-at-home order and related regulations
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Demonstrators at the No More Lockdowns rally in UpTown Waterloo gather to hear guest speakers.

Offering an update on bylaw response to the continuing, weekly anti-lockdown protests in UpTown Waterloo, officials said 27 charges have been laid in relation to those demonstrations – including seven individual court summonses with some being issued to repeat offenders. Those summonses carry three charges each – involving attendance and organization of a public event or gathering contrary to current regulations, failure to comply with public guidance of physical distancing as outlined by the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) and failure to remain at residence contrary to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA)

Nicole Papke is the Director of Municipal Enforcement Services at the City of Waterloo and said two of the three attendees issued individual summonses to court on April 18 were again charged on April 25, found to be in attendance for a consecutive week at the same UpTown Waterloo protests. Papke adds that, of the seven summonses issued so far, one is still yet to be served – related to the protest held on Mother’s Day which saw the attendance of several notable individuals in the anti-lockdown movement.

According to Papke, four individuals have been issued Provincial Offence Notices (PON) in relation to the ongoing protests, carrying charges under the ROA and EMCPA with a fine of $880 - with two carrying two charges each issued on April 25 and another two individuals given PON carrying one charge each on May 9. As for the individuals being summonsed to court, Papke said those attendees face similar charges, though the fines are to be determined by a justice of the peace. Regarding charges from the most recent anti-lockdown protest on May 16, Papke said she’s unable to comment on the ongoing investigation.

“I know it was significantly smaller and they didn’t stay around the town square very long, so I don’t know at this point what we’re looking at for this past Sunday,” said Papke. “We’re certainly preparing based on any information we receive for the possibility of any further demonstrations.”

When asked about the attendance of People’s Party of Canada Founder and Leader Maxime Bernier at a planned protest on June 6, Papke said Waterloo bylaw will be preparing with enforcement partners in the Waterloo Regional Police service, though she added that it’s not clear what state the region will be in with the stay-at-home order only extending at this point to June 2.

“It’s difficult to see what that could look like without knowing what the restrictions or regulations will be related to the pandemic,” said Papke. “It’s a couple weeks away, so as we gather more information we’ll continue to prepare.”

Papke added that it may be “frustrating” for some to navigate through our current pandemic protocols, though it’s important that we continue to follow public health guidelines.

“First and foremost, related to most of the regulations, education and engagement are our first kind of ‘go-to’, so we hope that everyone does continue to adhere to the public health guidelines.”

Papke also clarified that those 27 charges that have been laid in relation to all protests do not include any of the charges laid by Waterloo Regional Police as they relate to the ongoing demonstrations.

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