VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is raising some fines for those who continue to attend large gatherings, despite public health orders prohibiting them.

The province is bumping up fines for those who attend parties or other non-compliant gatherings from $230 up to $575, saying the previous amount wasn’t enough to deter people from breaking the rules.

“I am disappointed that a small minority of British Columbians continue to put their health and the health of others at risk by attending unsafe gatherings,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “This selfish behaviour needs to stop, and police and provincial enforcement authorities will be able to issue these new fines immediately.”

“There are those who seem to think that $230, that’s not going to deter them,” he added. “We’ve more than doubled that fine now, to $575. I think that sends a pretty strong message for people that they need to follow the provincial health officer’s orders.”

The fine for hosting large events is still capped at $2,300.

The fines for people who ignore mask rules and other measures as part of the provincial health order remain at $230 each.

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Farnworth says now that spring is here and the days are getting warmer, people may be tempted to attend events or large parties.

“We need to be even more vigilant about deterring people from not doing the right thing when it comes to the health and safety of our communities, neighbours, families, and even themselves,” he said.

The move to increase some fines appears to be a change of heart from the province, as the premier told reporters two months ago that the province was not considering any changes.

That was despite growing frustration and anger as many British Columbians continued to break the rules.

John Horgan had said B.C. was looking at options for those who didn’t seem to care about the rules and who were unaffected by financial penalties.

He said last month that he was confident in the province’s rules despite a high number of disputed tickets.

Farnwoth says more than 1,500 violation tickets have been issued in B.C.

Last month, we learned that only a small percentage of the $352,000 in COVID-19 fines had been paid.

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