By: Mike Anderson

Town of Georgina bylaw officers continue to ticket local small business owners for breaking COVID-19 rules under Ontario’s Reopening Act.

Ten businesses have been charged and fined for various violations since inspections began in early January.

Dr. Bob Pike, the owner of Pike Chiropractic Healing Centre, located at 204 Simcoe Ave in Keswick, said he felt “ambushed” after being issued an $880 fine on February 4 for not having a COVID-19 safety plan.

The Reopening Act states all businesses operating during a lockdown, including chiropractic clinics, must have a written safety plan, which outlines the measures taken to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Business owners must post the safety plan in a place where customers can easily see it. And it must be made available to anyone who requests it.

The provincial website states that “during an inspection…an inspector or compliance officer could ask whether you have developed a safety plan and may ask to see it.”

According to Dr. Pike, he was already following COVID-19 guidelines provided by the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO) and was not aware of the provincial requirement to post a safety plan.

“I had everything on my door, including the requirement to wash your hands before you come in. I had all my tables and chairs spaced. I had done everything I needed to do as a business person under the responsibilities that I have to the College of Chiropractors,” he said.

Dr. Pike said the bylaw officer entered his office unannounced while he was with a client and demanded to see his safety plan.

He also said the bylaw officer failed to notify him that she was acting on a complaint regarding his work premises.

“The Town was unprofessional in not telling me there had been a complaint against me, and they were disrespectful in walking into my office in the middle of a business day,” he said.

“I felt I was under attack. And, that’s not the way I want to feel in my town. Believe me, if I were 20 years younger, I’d be leaving Georgina.”

Dr. Pike also said the bylaw officer failed to exercise discretion, issuing a ticket without giving a warning.

“There was no warning. Zero warning,” he said.

“They had an agenda. Within a couple of minutes, they announced they might have to ticket me.”

Dr. Pike said after he got the ticket, he checked his computer but did not find any emails from the Town regarding a safety plan.

However, he acknowledges he did miss a reminder email from the Upper Keswick BIA, sent on February 1.

Dr. Pike said it was an honest mistake because the BIA’s new secretary sent the email – the regular secretary had recently resigned – and he didn’t recognize her hame.

Still, Dr. Pike believes the Town should have contacted him directly and needs to do a better job informing local businesses about their responsibilities under the Act.

“The Town has a choice. It can use the excuse that they are following orders, and it’s not a Town problem. But the Town has a responsibility to the community. And I feel they are behaving inappropriately and treating me and others unfairly.”

Dr. Pike plans to fight the ticket in court and has a warning to local elected officials.

“There are ways of handling people in power who are overreaching. They can be voted out. I don’t imagine that the next election is going to be very kind to anyone who’s associated with the suppression of small business during a pandemic.”

The Post asked the Town for comment. But Municipal Law Enforcement does not release specific facts related to the charge. And cannot provide further comment while the matters are going through the legal process.

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