Observe and educate.

That’s what Comox Valley bylaw officers are doing to help remind people about physical distancing during the pandemic.

Bylaw officers within the Comox Valley Regional District have been tasked by the province to educate people about physical distancing and provincial orders in place to protect the community. 

They don’t have the power to enforce, ticket or detain public health orders.

Officers are patrolling regional parks and trails, and are doing spot checks at “hot spots.” 

Gatherings larger than 50 people will be reported to the Ministry of Health. 

The district’s manager of bylaw compliance, Amanda Yasinski, said officers can take on the role of watchdogs for public health officials.

“The public health authorities are going to concentrate on businesses, and where we’re really helping them would be, if a business is operating contrary to the orders, a gathering, and the threshold is 50 or more people… that might be a gathering (that’s) either commercial or private, that is directly contrary to the orders,” Yasinski said.

“Our role would be to attend, educate, ask for compliance, and then if compliance is not achieved, from our evidence, we can then support health officials if they want to move forward with charges.”

Yasinski said officers are also busy focusing on such things as dealing with dog-leashing regulations and noise complaints, and enforcing regional fire bans.

If you see, or know of, gatherings of over 50 people, have concerns with businesses operating contrary to the provincial orders, or have general social distancing concerns, you can report it by emailing the district (bylawenforcement@comoxvalleyrd.ca) or the Vancouver Island Health Authority (publichealth@viha.ca).