West Lincoln mayor issued court summons after attending anti-lockdown rally

Dave Bylsma West Lincoln mayor Dave Bylsma

West Lincoln Mayor David Bylsma received a summons yesterday for him to appear in court after attending and speacking at a anti-lockdown rally last weekend.

Bylsma spoke at what was called the No More Lockdown rally at a St. Catharines strip mall last Saturday. It drew over 1,000 mostly maskless attendees, who also failed to social distance.

Bylsma told the St Catharines Standard by text message: “I can confirm that for my civil disobedience I have indeed received a court summons — no fine. I am not one to bemoan the consequences for my actions and received it with politeness and respect for the officer that issued it.”

Thorold Councillor Jim Handley, who also attended last weekend’s rally, was also charged by police.

Handley told ThoroldToday.ca that he was at the rally representing himself as a private person, and not a councillor.

A ticket for $880 can be issued for failure to comply with Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions. Those who receive a summons to appear in court face a maximum fine of $100,000 and a year in prison.

A second anti-lockdown rally is planned for this weekend on Saturday in Niagara Falls. The province remains under a stay-at-home order, issued on April 8, that limits outdoor gatherings to five people. Police say they will monitor that rally if it happens.

Niagara police also said in a news release yesterday that an investigation by its detectives resulted in the following charges against a 50-year-old West Lincoln male and a 47-year-old St. Catharines male under the Reopening Ontario Act:

  1. Part III summons Fail to comply with a continued 7.0.2 Order contrary to the Ontario Re-Opening Act 2020, section 10(1) 82/20 Ontario Regulation, schedule 4 section 1(c)
  2. Part III summons for Fail to Comply with an Order made during a declared emergency section 7.0.11(1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act

“As the individuals have been charged under the ROA, which is provincial legislation and not the Criminal Code of Canada, the Niagara Regional Police Service will not be disclosing their names,” said a police news release. However, the individuals charged have since been identified through media reports as Bylsma, 50, and Handley.

Niagara Region bylaw officers and Niagara Regional Police have issued 10 court summons with more charges yet to be filed.