There will be no more warnings for big parties, city police say

Troy Shantz

Partiers can expect to pay hefty fines if city police are forced to break up another youth gathering like the one at a Bright’s Grove beach last week, Sarnia’s Police Chief says.

On the evening of Friday, Sept. 25 concerned neighbours called police after more than 100 young people gathered for a party in Mike Weir Park.

It took three units to “herd” the youth from one area of Bright’s Grove to another in a bid to disperse them.

Ontario recently reduced the size of social gatherings to no more than 25 people outdoors, and 10 people indoors.

“We’re going to have to lay some charges if this happens again,” Chief Norm Hansen warned Monday.

The fine is $750 for participants, and $10,000 for organizers.

While Sarnia-Lambton had just three active cases of COVID-19 on Monday, Ontario was setting a new single-day record of 700 new cases.

Now is not the time to relax on social gathering guidelines, said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health.

“The virus doesn’t care how old you are when you socialize,” he said. “The message really is, reduce, reduce, reduce your socializing and social contacts as much as possible, regardless of what age group you are in.”

Chief Hansen called the beach party “discouraging” after a summer when unlawful gathering complaints declined steadily.

“It seemed like, in general, people were really paying attention,” he said. “If you look around you see people following the mask bylaw. You see people practicing social distancing. We haven’t had too many issues.”

Officers did not take down names Friday and the teens quickly dispersed into surrounding neighbourhoods, said Const. John Sottosanti.

Some parents went to the park to search for their children after police issued a news advisory.

Parents need to be vigilant as Ontario heads into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hansen said.

“Teenagers will be teenagers, but during these times it’s more important than ever to monitor what’s going on.”