An Oakville, Ont., family is speaking out after a rollerblading outing turned into a costly ticket for allegedly violating COVID-19 physical distancing rules.
On Friday, Todd Nelson took his sons Liam, Brandon and Dustin to the parking lot of Glen Abbey Community Centre to go rollerblading, he said — but after about 45 minutes, a bylaw officer pulled up and told them they had to go.
“I kind of looked around. There was nobody near us. The whole parking lot was completely empty.”
“I just said, ‘Who are we hurting?’ He said, ‘Oh, you’re not going to be like that, are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m just asking a question,’ Nelson said. “And that was it. He said, ‘Give me your ID’, and next thing you know we got a ticket.”
The ticket added up to $880 after surcharges. The alleged offence: violating the emergency order issued by the Ontario government that closed outdoor recreation areas to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“Dad had just asked a question,” son Liam said. “He wasn’t really — he wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
His brother, Brandon, said the situation left him feeling “bad,” insisting, “we were just exercising.”
On Sunday, the entrance of the Glen Abbey Community Centre parking lot remained without any tape or pylons to indicate not to enter.
The Town of Oakville has warned in recent days it is serious about enforcing the emergency order.
Mayor Rob Burton said in a statement posted online last week: “I urge everyone, and I urge parents to tell their children, stop getting together with friends in parks. They are closed for a reason — to keep people safe.”
When asked about the case involving the Nelson family, the town said it could not get into specifics but said in a statement, “We are in a pandemic and the province and the town have both put in place orders and bylaws to protect the public and to help curb the spread of COVID-19.”
Nelson told Global News he believes the law was poorly executed in the case of his family.
“In terms of, you know, the spirit of social distancing, it was just our immediate family,” he said.
“We weren’t with anyone. We weren’t touching anything.”
He said he is still trying to make sense of where his family can and can’t go, adding the town could make better use of signs and barricades.
He said he plans to appeal the fine.
“I think there was an opportunity for education, maybe, instead of a ticket.”