Bylaw officers “were swamped” in Niagara-on-the-Lake over the holiday weekend, says Lord Mayor Betty Disero.
They were checking out complaints of holiday rentals that were occupied, and “all kinds of people parked along the Niagara Parkway,” probably not from town.
The Town is “moving beyond education,” handing out tickets to people who are not staying home, she says.
Interim CAO Sheldon Randall and Coun. Erwin Wiens have been traveling around to farms where offshore workers have arrived, making sure they have settled into their isolation and have the supplies they need.
There are some complaints coming into the Town, one about a busload of workers shopping, and others regarding the numbers in the vineyards, seemingly working too close together.
Wiens says “by and large I’ve been very impressed,” with adherence to guidelines, and efforts to ensure the workers are getting what they need in the way of food and supplies.
He says bylaw officers are at his disposal if he needs them, but most of the calls are unfounded, a result of the public misunderstanding what they’re seeing.
“Bylaw officers are double-shifting. All of them are working,” he says.
Temporary farm workers who have finished their isolation period are allowed in groups of five, whether working or taking breaks. Any more than that, they are to travel separately and work separately in crews of five. Farmers are starting them out in vineyards, for example, of 10 rows apart for each crew, so they can keep their physical distance, says Wiens.
Some of the crews are from St. Catharines, and have been pruning all winter, he says, and people see them and think they should be in quarantine.
If residents see something they think is unsafe, they should contact the Town at 905-468-3266, but specific details are required to follow up.
“If there’s a complaint about a bus at valu-mart and the bus is gone when we get there, if we don’t know where it’s from, there isn’t much we can do about it. We need specific information.”
There were some “growing pains” initially about filling large food orders for the workers, but grocery stores are getting on board and doing what they can to help, says Wiens.
Mexican workers arrived Saturday, sooner than expected, he says.
Some are being quarantined in hotel rooms, when they’re headed to farms where there are workers who have already finished their isolation, and rooms will also be available for anyone who becomes sick and requires isolation, Wiens says. He’s purchased a trailer for his small group in case it’s needed.
“There are plenty of options out there,” Wiens says. “Everything is moving along. The good news is the colder weather, so everything’s a little further behind.”
Town bylaw officers are also busy checking out non-essential businesses that continue to operate, including short-term rentals, says planning director Craig Larmour. Whether bylaw officers are issuing warnings or tickets is left up to their discretion. The Town receives a portion of revenue from fines collected, with the remainder going to the Province.