Five of eight cited appear to be homeless

Just before noon on Jan. 12, 3 District (Welland) uniform officers attended a residence in the area of Cozy Street and Duncan Street, in Welland, on a COVID-19 related call for service.

According to a police statement issued that afternoon, officers arrived on scene to find several people inside a residence, “clearly in contradiction of the COVID-19 regulations.”

As a result, police charged eight individuals with Fail to Comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.

A 52-year-old male, a 32-year-old female, a 44-year-old female, a 30-year-old female, a 28-year-old male, a 33-year-old male, a 34-year-old male, as well as a 38-year-old female are facing charges, as social gatherings are limited to members of the same household. Each individual was fined $880.

Following community outcry on social media regarding whether some or all of those cited were homeless, The Voice requested comment from Niagara Police. NRPS spokesperson Phil Gavin confirmed that five of the eight individuals were unable to provide addresses.

“When our officers arrived on scene they determined who was the legal tenant of the apartment,” Gavin said.  “Officers found eight persons in one of the units.  They were not related family members, only one of which was the legal tenant to the apartment.  As a result offices laid charges under the ROA act.  Of the eight persons that were fined, five were unable to provide a fixed address.”

As charges were filed under provincial legislation and not the criminal code, police are declining to release the names of those charged.

“The NRPS joins Public Health officials in calling on Niagara residents and visitors to Niagara to adhere to the Emergency Orders to prevent the spread of the virus,” said the statement.

Members of the public observing violations of COVID protocols may call their local bylaw enforcement officials during normal working hours.  After hours and on weekends, calls should be directed to the Niagara Region Dispatch Line, (905) 984-3690.


UPDATED: Jan. 19 with police comment confirming that some of those charged appeared to be homeless