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Oakville’s physical distancing bylaw repealed

Physical Distancing bylaw repealed
Oakville’s physical distancing bylaw repealed
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Kim Arnott

Kim Arnott

Kim Arnott is a graduate of McMaster University and Sheridan College’s journalism program, her reporting has appeared in dozens of daily and community newspapers, magazines and specialty publications over the last two decades.

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The town has repealed its physical distancing bylaw that threatened residents with $300 fines for not staying far enough apart.

Adopted on April 3, the Oakville bylaw enforced a minimum two-metre distance between people – and eventually even a maximum leash length for town dogs.

Residents were also warned and fined for violating rules about congregating in parks or using closed sports fields.

Bylaw officers issued 27 tickets for violations of the physical distancing bylaw, said Jane Courtemanche, Oakville’s director of strategy, policy and communications, who noted that the approach was to educate people when possible.

Despite that, there were complaints about heavy-handed enforcement. One Oakville family received an $880 ticket for rollerblading in the parking lot of the closed Glen Abbey community centre.

Withdrawal of the bylaw will “eliminate confusion” around its impact on local economic recovery, including outdoor patio dining, said a release issued by the town on June 11.

“While Halton Region and Oakville have not yet been approved to move into Phase 2 of recovery which would allow for outside dining, we want to be ready and provide clarity to businesses on the rules that will be in place when this does happen,” Mayor Rob Burton said.

Residents are still being urged to follow public health guidelines and continue to practice physical distancing.

The town will also continue to enforce the provincial emergency order limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people. Bylaw officers will respond to complaints about larger social gatherings, and $750 tickets may be issued for violations.

The town’s press release congratulates residents for slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Oakville.

“We adopted this bylaw at the height of the pandemic and it did its job,” said Burton. “We all know now how important physical distancing is to keep ourselves and our families safe, and that is a far better incentive to practice physical distancing than a ticket.”

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