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City to issue removal notices for tents in front of City Hall, gatherings under 25 still permitted

Hamilton, ON - Today, City Bylaw officers will be issuing notices to remove tents and other structures that have been erected as part of the protest on the forecourt of Hamilton City Hall.

The notices, issued under sections 17 and 18 of the City's Parks Bylaw, do not impact people's right to gather in front of City Hall to demonstrate. The City will continue to monitor that crowd sizes adhere to provincial COVID-19 orders, which limit gatherings outdoors to 25 people.

The notices will indicate that tents and other structures need to be removed from the forecourt immediately, but the City will work with demonstrators to have them removed by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night to allow reasonable time for dismantling and removal. It is only the tents and structures that are being ordered for removal, individuals are permitted to remain on site, provided they do not exceed the 25-person outdoor gathering limit.

The notices come after several days of verbal education efforts by City Bylaw officers who have made demonstrators on the forecourt of City Hall aware that tents are not permitted as part of the demonstration and would need be removed.

"The City will continue to respect people's right to demonstrate appropriately on public property and support people's ability to voice their concerns. That said, our primary concern remains public health and ensuring that we limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable."

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger

To date, the City has issued four tickets for COVID-related charges related to the forecourt. Two tickets were issued for failing to social distance and two were issued for exceeding the number of people allowed in an outdoor gathering under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). This is the second time a charge has been laid against an organizer of an event, with the organizer of a Hugs Before Masks demonstration on the City Hall forecourt charged for a November 8 gathering.

Since Monday, the gathering size in front of City Hall has fluctuated from below 25 people to more than 75 people.