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City of Hamilton COVID-19 Enforcement FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

From the City's Emergency Operations Centre

(Last Updated April 6, 2020)


Q1: Who enforces the Provincial Order against gatherings of more than 5 people?

A: There is a Provincial Order against organized gatherings of more than 5 people. This Order can be enforced by Hamilton Police or by City of Hamilton By-law Officers. To report an organized gathering that is in violation of this Order, contact the City of Hamilton at 905-546-2489 (546-CITY) and they will dispatch to the appropriate enforcement agency. Please be aware that we are receiving a high number of enforcement requests, and we are responding to as many as we can as quickly as we can.

Q2: Are fines issued immediately for groups of more than 5 people gathering and if so, what are the fines?

A: City of Hamilton By-law Officers will use a progressive enforcement approach. If they do not obtain compliance or there is a repeated offense, fines of up to $750 per individual may be issued, while corporations could face fines up to $500,000.

Q3: Who is responsible for enforcing when people do not physically distance?

A: Public Health has advised that people should physically distance at least 2 meters when out of the home. This includes when going for a walk, grocery shopping, in the workplace, etc. At this time, physical distancing is a Public Health recommendation, and not a Provincial Order, and it is therefore not enforceable by Police or City By-law Officers. However, the City of Hamilton is considering a new By-law that would make it an offence not to keep physical distance between people that are not of the same immediate family.  This By-law is expected to be before Council for consideration on April 8.  If approved, City of Hamilton By-law Officers would be able to enforce, and the public can report instances by calling 905-546-2489 (546-CITY).

Q4: Are City parks and trails closed?

A: Most City parks and City trails remain open at this time, and are available for passive use (walking, jogging, cycling), with appropriate physical distancing and without having gatherings of more than 5 people.

Public Health has advised that people should stay home except for essential trips. If going outside, people are encouraged to go for walks just within their neighbourhoods and in their local parks.   The key message coming out from all public health officials, including our own Medical Officer of Health, is to stay home except for essential needs or helping vulnerable individuals who need assistance with groceries etc., as we are entering a critical time in the pandemic. We know people want to get outside with the nicer weather, but the key message is to go for a walk in your own neighbourhood.

Q5:  Are City golf courses open to the public to use?

A:  Both Chedoke and King Forest Golf Courses are closed to the public.  They are not to be used as parks or as dog parks, and are not to be used for walking.   The courses are closed to the public and it is prohibited to be on the courses in any way.

Q6:  What City parks or trails are closed?

A: The following are closed: Hamilton Conservation Authority conservation areas and trails, Escarpment stairs, Waterfront Trail, Albion Falls, parking lots associated with some parks and stairs, playgrounds, skate parks, tennis courts, basketball courts, park pavilions, benches, picnic areas and dog parks.

Note that in Ward 1 the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail is partially under the control of the City of Hamilton and partially under the control of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.  The section of HBRT west from Ewen Road westbound is part of the HCA and is therefore closed.

Q7: Who is responsible for enforcing if someone uses a closed City park or City facility?

A: If someone is using a closed City facility or amenity, such as the Escarpment stairs or Albion Falls, they can be charged with failing to comply with an emergency order under the Emergency Measures Protection Act and subject to a fine of $750.  This can be enforced by City of Hamilton By-law Officers as well as by the Hamilton Police Service. 

Q8: Who is enforcing closed parking lots and illegal parking on streets near City parks?

A: In order to reduce crowding or gathering at some City parks, several parking lots have been closed. It is prohibited to park in these parking lots. City of Hamilton Parking Enforcement Officers are actively monitoring these parking lots, and anyone found parked in a closed parking lot will be fined. 

Parking enforcement for residential permits and time limits on residential streets have been relaxed until further notice to help those working from home or self-isolating. However, Parking Enforcement Officers are actively enforcing signed parking regulations on streets and neighbourhoods around parking lots that have been closed to the public, such as at trailheads, beach areas, and other areas.  In some cases, additional temporary signage has been placed in selected areas such as the Waterfront and Beach areas to reinforce no parking zones. Anyone parking in these areas will be fined.

Parking enforcement also continues for any matters that cause a health or safety concern, such as blocking driveways or fire hydrants.

Suspected parking violations can be reported by calling 905-540-6000 or by calling 905-546-2489 (546-CITY).

Q9: Are parks, stairs, trails, parking lots, etc. being proactively monitored?

A: City of Hamilton By-law Officers and Parking Enforcement Officers are proactively monitoring City parks, stairs, trails, playground equipment and other City facilities and amenity’s that have been ordered closed by the Province.  Officers are also responding to complaints.

Q10: Are City By-law Officers still responding to non-COVID related complaints?

A: It is important to know that Licensing and Bylaw Services have prioritized COVID-19 related calls. However, they continue to respond to issues related to other City by-laws that represent a health and safety concern, including Vital Services, Vacant Buildings, Illegal Dumping, emergency Property Standards matters, as well as the illegal cutting of trees. 

Q11: Who is responsible for enforcement if a business is staying open in violation of the Provincial Order?

A: The Province has issued an Order requiring several types of businesses to close. City of Hamilton Licensing By-law Officers are taking the lead in the enforcement of orders under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act including non-essential businesses operating. They are operating on a complaint basis. Complaints can be reported to 905-546-2489 (546-CITY).

Q12: How do we know if a business is considered essential?

A: Determination of which businesses are essential or not-essential is made by the Province. Inquiries should go to the Provincial hotline at 1-888-444-3659

Q13: Who is enforcing construction sites that have been ordered to close?

A: The Province’s Order requiring non-essential businesses to close, has identified some types of construction sites as essential, but other types as non-essential.  Information as to which types of construction sites are non-essential, and are therefore required to close, can be obtained by calling the Provincial hotline at 1-888-444-3659.

The City of Hamilton’s Building Division will be taking the lead in enforcing this aspect of the Provincial Order, and they will be regularly monitoring construction sites in the city. Complaints about suspected illegally-operating constructions sites can be reported to 905-546-2489 (546-CITY).

Q14: Do private property owners such as condominiums have to close amenity areas such as fitness rooms?

A: Common amenity areas in private buildings, such as fitness rooms and swimming pools in condo buildings, are to be closed. Any use of these types of areas would be a contravention of the Emergency Measures Civil Protection Act.  Any complaints can be investigated by the City’s By-law Officers or the Hamilton Police Service. Complaints can be directed to the City’s Customer Contact Centre at 905-546-2489 (546-CITY).   

Q15: What if there is a concern regarding a business not following proper hygiene?

A: The City’s Public Health Inspectors are responsible for enforcing proper hygiene and public health practices at restaurants, stores, etc.  If the public suspects that a business is not following proper hygiene, such as food handling or cleaning, call the Public Health COVID-19 hotline at 905-974-9848 or email [email protected]  Although Public Health is handling a high volume of calls, they will make every effort to respond to these incidents.

Q16: How do you report suspected price gouging by a business?

A: Suspected price gouging can be reported through the Provincial hotline at 1-800-889-9768.

Q17: If there are people who have returned from travel that are not self-isolating, how is this reported?

A: Failure to self-isolate could be an offence under the Quarantine Act of Canada.  Enforcement is the responsibility of the federal Quarantine Officer identified under the Act. Until that person is identified by the Federal Government, and directs the police to assist after they have determined there is a violation under the Act, the Police have no authority to act.

Q18: If there are people who have tested positive for COVID-19 who are not doing the mandatory quarantine who do they report this to?

A: A person who has an active case of COVID-19 that is not adhering to isolation protocols can be reported to the Public Health COVID-19 hotline at 905-974-9848 or by emailing [email protected]