OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson is telling Ottawa residents that it’s “idiotic to be holding a house party” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watson made the comment while announcing a dedicated team of Ottawa Bylaw officers now have the power to issue fines to people attending house parties or gathering at Ottawa’s parks and public spaces.

The City received 50 complaints over the weekend about house parties, people hanging out in groups and gathering in public parks and other spaces.

Watson told reporters in a Monday afternoon teleconference that the Ontario Government has given Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services new powers to enforce the rules under the Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Effective immediately, Ottawa Bylaw officers will be proactively monitoring and enforcing calls related to:

  • Gatherings of five or more people in public or private residences
  • People congregating in parks/using park facilities or equipment
  • Restaurants that continue to offer dine-in services
  • Non-essential retail businesses continuing to operate.

“It’s completely irresponsible when I get reports back that people are having house parties or porch parties and they’re pouring out onto the street” said Watson.

“We need the tools that the province has given us so that we can let these people know that it’s not only illegal, it’s idiotic to be holding a house party in the midst of a pandemic.”

The City of Ottawa announced last week all parks are closed and play ground equipment is off-limits. Watson urged parents to stop bringing their children to parks.

“The parks are closed, except to walk through them, not to gather, not to use the playground equipment,” said Watson.

“I think parents also have to take responsibility, where are your kids? They shouldn’t be out there in groups of more than five, hanging around in a park.”

Residents can report non-compliance by calling 311.

Ottawa’s Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte says the Bylaw Services officers will take a progressive enforcement approach to complaints. The initial plan is to educate residents and businesses about the laws and their importance to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Di Monte says as time goes on, failure to comply could result in fines for individuals from $750 to $100,000.

Ottawa Police Service officers will continue to enforce calls related to quarantine orders due to COVID-19.

Complaints related to quarantine orders should be reported to Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222 ext. 7502.