Police fine 12 people who gathered on dock in Halifax's south end
HALIFAX -- Halifax Regional Police have fined 12 people $1,000 each for gathering on a public pathway in Halifax’s south end Tuesday night.
Police say at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, officers attended a public pathway at the end of 6404 Oakland Road in Halifax, which led to a dock on the water. A member of the community was concerned about the number of people in close proximity to one another and called police.
According to police, they found "a group of 12-15 people were on the small dock in very close proximity to one another," in violation of the new Public Health Act restrictions that came into effect on Nov. 26, 2020, which limits public gatherings to five people.
One person who lives in the area told CTV News he heard a lot of noise around 11 p.m.
"Sometime after 11 I heard a bunch of noises, opened the window, couldn't see anything, it was pretty dark," said Michael Paul. "I turned on some lights outside and wandered around a little bit with a flashlight, but didn't see anything, heard their voices for a few minutes."
Police charged 12 persons on scene with violating section 71 (1) (b) of the Health Protection Act for failing to comply with its regulations.
That charge carries a fine of $1,000 per person.
"That's what surprised me, we've been in a week into the new restrictions, everybody knows what they should and shouldn't being doing, but you know you've got a few people out there who say, 'Maybe I can sneak out for one last kick at the can while the weather is good, and maybe we'll have a couple of pops or something' right?" said Paul.
Paul didn't get a look at how many people were making the noise, and eventually went to bed, but another resident called police who followed the racket to Oakland Road Park leading to a tiny dock, where they charged the 12 individuals $1,000 each.
Wayne MacKay, a professor emeritus at Dalhousie Law School, says "ignorance of the law is no excuse."
However, he does argue that several COVID-19 regulations could benefit from more clarification.
However, he calls the crowd limit rule of five crystal clear.
"The one rule that I would've thought is very clear is that gatherings over five are problematic and will be penalized," MacKay said. "That's probably about the clearest rule out there right now in my mind."
Police say more information on the Act, helpful resources, contact numbers and general information including the newest restrictions, information can be viewed on the Nova Scotia website.