Winnipeg redeploying bylaw officers to focus on COVID-19: Bowman

The City of Winnipeg is redeploying bylaw officers to help with enforcement of COVID-19 rules under the direction of the provincial government.

Mayor Brian Bowman said Friday that the city is doing several things to help with enforcing the rules.

“The city will be pulling bylaw enforcement officers within community services from their regular duties and redeploying them into public health enforcement,” Bowman said.

Read more: Manitoba reports 427 new coronavirus cases, 4 additional deaths Thursday

The city’s assistant chief of emergency management, Jason Shaw, said five bylaw officers will be redeployed.

The officers will be focusing on two areas, said Shaw.

“Proactive inspection of facilities that have been ordered closed, as per the latest public health orders, and occupancy and social distancing requirements for facilities that have been allowed to remain open,” he said.

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Those facilities include gyms, fitness centres and yoga studios.

Click to play video 'Winnipeg police COVID-19 enforcement' Winnipeg police COVID-19 enforcement

Winnipeg police COVID-19 enforcement

“This will, of course, have an impact on the city’s bylaw enforcement activities,” said Bowman.

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“I’d like to just ask Winnipeggers for their patience in those areas as the city steps up to support the province in enforcing provincial public health orders.”

Other bylaw officers will take up the duties of those redeployed, Shaw said, but noted there may be delays to complaints from people under the Neighbourhood Livability bylaw.

“The department will still prioritize inspections that pose a life-safety issue,” said Shaw.

While the province is promoting a provincial tip line for people to report coronavirus rule-breakers, Bowman noted that the tip line is only staffed during business hours.

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Winnipeggers can call 311 any time to let them know of large gatherings or other activities that violate the public health act.

Fines collected will go back exclusively into the city’s efforts to combat the pandemic, said Bowman.

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