The City of Fernie recently hired a new bylaw enforcement officer, Tom Kramer, to enforce ministerial orders pertaining to the current public health emergency. Kramer worked as a police officer in Lethbridge for 30 years prior to moving back to Fernie to accept the full time, permanent position.
“[Kramer] brings a breadth of experience to the position and has hit the ground running, assisting the province with compliance and enforcement of public health orders related to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Liz Rhodes, communications coordinator for the City of Fernie.
According to a news release from the government of British Columbia, provincial compliance staff have been redeployed from various ministries to assist with enforcement duties under the direction of the provincial health officer. This includes community safety personnel, gambling enforcement and investigations officers, liquor and cannabis licensing and control inspectors. Working alongside businesses and the general public, the officers oversee directives such as gathering size limitations, physical distancing requirements, and enforced business closures.
According to the same release, while bylaw enforcement officers do not have the ability to detain disobeying individuals, they can assist provincial health officers by monitoring facilities and providing information, advice and warnings to businesses and the public. They also have the power to delegate information about contraventions to health authorities for follow up.
Presently, the City of Fernie has closed all sports fields, playgrounds, and public facilities to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While parks remain open, the city asks the public to practice social distancing whenever possible. This includes avoiding high touch areas like park benches, keeping dogs on leash at all times, and staying home whenever possible.
Continuing to impose existing City of Fernie bylaws, Kramer and the rest of the bylaw enforcement team will be routinely visiting play structures, sports fields, public spaces, and closed playgrounds to ensure the public is complying with current regulations and abiding by social distancing protocols.
Fernie’s bylaw officers will also be visiting open businesses to guarantee proper social distancing measures are in place. This includes ensuring various businesses such as tattoo parlours, hair salons, and fitness facilities are abiding by mandated closures.
“Local governments are key partners in ensuring the provincial health officer’s orders are obeyed so people in our communities can stay healthy,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, in the aforementioned news release. “It’s important that communities, and those responsible for compliance, have clear and consistent guidelines to enforce the provincial health officer’s orders so businesses can adapt their workplaces and help keep people safe.”
This being said, the City of Fernie urges anyone who notices actions that do not align with the public health officer’s orders to reach out via the online Request for Service tool on Fernie.com, or to contact the City at email@example.com.