Saanich police issue pair of $2,300 fines for weekend parties

Saanich police gave out a pair of $2,300 fines over the weekend at homes where gatherings were deemed to have contravened provincial health orders related to COVID-19.

In both cases, officers were called to residences because of noise complaints. Each gathering included people who did not live in the home, and one homeowner said the gathering was a party for friends in the neighbourhood.

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Both gatherings had about 10 people, police said. One involved university-aged people at a home on Hartwood Place in east Saanich, and the other was made up of teenagers at a home on South Valley Drive in the Strawberry Vale area.

Saanich Const. Markus Anastasiades said the department has now issued 28 COVID-related tickets since last ­September.

Police said they encourage people to report incidents by calling the department’s non-emergency line at 250-475-4321.

B.C. more than doubled the fine for promoting and attending a non-compliant gathering or event from $230 to $575 last week.

Especially egregious offences could also lead to criminal charges under the Emergency Program Act, which carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison or a $10,000 fine.

The fine for those who organize or host a prohibited event remains unchanged at $2,300, while fines for a range of COVID-19 violations including not wearing a mask remain at $230.

“We’re still in a time where the virus continues to be a risk to health and public safety, yet some people are just not getting the message,” Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“I urge all British Columbians to keep a level head and say no to these kinds of events until we can get COVID-19 under ­control.”

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