Complaints pour into COVID-19 tip line, city hall responds by phone
LONDON, ONT. -- In just five days, Londoners have lodged 1,250 complaints about people and businesses not following provincial COVID-19 orders.
About 70 per cent of complaints filed with London City Hall’s dedicated COVID Concern tip line have been through email, the remainder by telephone.
Chief Municipal Law Enforcement Officer Orest Katolyk explains that his staff are triaging the complaints and addressing them by phone.
“We’ve responded to close to 400 or 500 complaints, and we’re doing that over the phone so we have redeployed staff to do that.”
Rather than issuing fines, those phone calls have focussed on educating those who may not be following provincial rules.
Meanwhile, the London Police Service has yet to lay a single charge related to the province’s emergency order, but they have responded to some complaints.
“Our enforcement efforts commence with education and warnings,” explains Const. Sandasha Bough. “So far this approach has worked, however, if there is consistent and ongoing non-compliance with provincial orders, then formal charges may become the best enforcement actions.”
In Toronto Wednesday, a police officer tweeted that five men were issued $880 'social distancing' fines for drinking together near a subway station.
Rather than dishing out punishment, Katolyk suggests the goal of London’s dedicated email and tip line is to improve adherence of the rules, and steer complaints away from 911 dispatchers who were being overwhelmed by non-emergency calls.
“All these calls going to 911, that would certainly be a strain on that system, so we feel this is meeting the objective,” says Katolyk.
And he emphasizes - the objective is definitely not to ‘snitch,’ “It’s really not people snitching on each other. It’s people calling with serious concern at a serious time.”
Londoners concerned that a person or business is violating physical distancing orders can call municipal by-law enforcement at 519-661-4660 or email: COVIDOrderConcerns@london.ca