An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF EVER THERE WAS A CASE for stiffer fines for COVID-19 rule violations, it’s the so-called music festival up in Tranquille Valley.
According to police, more than 200 people attended the event, billed as a protest against COVID restrictions, up the Tranquille-Criss Creek Road. It was aptly called March Madness.
According to police, an officer who found the gathering received no co-operation — and even active obstruction — in attempting to find the organizer or organizers.
There’s nothing like a herd to make normal people get stupid. Participants no doubt regarded the whole thing as a lark, an opportunity to rebel and ignore both the police and all common sense.
It was a classic super spreader, and we may soon be feeling the effects as those who attended spread the virus among family and friends, exponentially increasing the case count.
Current penalties will do little to discourage such behavior.
Currently, hosts of banned events can be fined $2,300. For many situations, that’s just the cost of doing business, or the price of a good time.
That fine should be hiked significantly, to, say, $5,000. And those who attend such events should pay at least $1,000 instead of the $230 tickets now occasionally handed out.
Of course, police have to have the resources to hand out those tickets. It’s apparent there wasn’t much they could do in the case of the musical protest. Certainly, they could have taken down names and licence plates, shot pictures and video and followed up with the fines, but there’s no way they could have shut down the event.
That’s why it’s so important to have fines that work. They have to be steep enough to discourage such events from happening in the first place. And police have to make examples of some of these dumb events by descending on them in force and levying fines — hopefully, much bigger than they are now — to everyone in sight.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.