With Ontario lifting some COVID-19 measures in March, Peterborough’s acting police chief is asking residents to reconsider attending further events protesting the mandates.
In a letter posted on its service’s website, Peterborough Police Service acting chief Tim Farquharson says as Ontario continues its reopening process, residents with opinions on COVID-19 mandates should approach any differences with “kindness and a willingness to understand or accept each other with grace.”
“We believe this is particularly important as we move forward in the reopening process,” he stated.
“Given the lifting of some COVID restrictions last week and additional ones less than a week away, the service is hopeful that residents will reconsider attending further events around COVID measures. If the restrictions and mandates were truly the concern, then as a community we should be rejoicing in the fact there are promising times right around the corner. We should be asking ourselves what the best way is to support our community and help it mend from the impact of the pandemic.”
His letter comes following a slow-roll convoy protest on Saturday that resulted in two people being charged. Another slow-roll convoy is being planned in the city on Saturday. There have been a number of incidents during the pandemic that have resulted in charges, including individuals who gathered outside the home of Peterborough Public Health’s medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott in January and individuals who breached the health unit’s office building in November 2021.
Farquharson notes that on March 1, the province is lifting capacity limits on all indoor public settings and businesses can end using proof of vaccination requirements. Masks/face covers will remain in effect for the time being.
“Over the past number of months, Peterborough has seen many groups exercise their right to assemble and protest peacefully. Where this has not happened, charges have been laid,” he said. “The officers of the Peterborough Police Service approach each situation based on its own merit and will continue to do so.”
He says any action by police has been “complaint driven” but places significant demands on the service.
“Police response to events is not an endorsement and shouldn’t be construed as such. It’s rather our commitment to public safety,” Farquharson stated.
Farquharson also said the service has received a number of inquires about Canada’s Emergencies Act and if it’s applicable.
“Our understanding is that it applies to situations and events where critical infrastructure is blocked,” he said. “We hope that we do not have to apply such measures in our community.”
With respects for permits to host protests or gatherings, the acting police chief says the City of Peterborough has a bylaw for events such as parades and bylaw officers attend to assess whether any contravention of bylaws is occurring.
Farquharson said he asks for the public’s patience and support as officers work to minimize any disruptions that may arise during protests.
“Peterborough Police members are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of residents during these types of situations that have occurred in recent weeks and months while still answering the regular calls for service,” he said. “We thank our team for their commitment to our communities. We also thank the public for your understanding, cooperation, and commitment to that same goal — a safe community for all.”
To reach out to the police service, for non-emergencies call 705-876-1122 or report non-emergency incidents online. Call 911 if it’s an emergency.