Police are recommending criminal charges against a Grand Forks man who hosted a backyard party featuring live bands at his property near the American border Saturday, Oct. 10.
Grand Forks RCMP were called to the party between 7:30 and 8 p.m., after neighbours called 9-1-1 to complain about loud music they said had been playing for hours.
According to Cpl. Breadon Thomas, police returned about 90 minutes later, finding “around 60 people” in front of a stage on the accused’s property. A band was playing loud music, despite clear instructions by police to shut down the party.
Thomas said the crowd wasn’t socially distanced and people weren’t wearing masks. A binder left out for guests’ contact-tracing information had been left empty, he added.
The homeowner was given two $230 tickets. The first for “refusing to comply” with police, the second for allegedly violating the COVID-related Measures Act, which limits outdoor gatherings to 50 people.
Thomas withheld the man’s name pending charges by Crown prosecutors, but homeowner Brody Peterson told The Gazette that he intends to fight both tickets.
Speaking from his home on Friday, Oct. 15, Peterson weighed his outdoor “house warming” against a notoriously crowded house party that netted a $2,300 fine by Victoria police in August.
“I’m not some punk kid in Victoria having an apartment party. This is a big outdoor space,” he said, pointing to his backyard.
Peterson said he’d invited up to 25 friends and family members to celebrate his recent home purchase.
“It wasn’t advertised. No one was charged to come here. No bands were paid. It wasn’t a ‘rock concert.’ It just wasn’t like that.”
Guests were told to come in and out of his backyard through separately designated gates, he said. People were offered hand sanitizer and masks, but Peterson said people felt uncomfortable giving their contact information after police arrived.
He said he refused to break up the party when told by police because he was worried people drinking on his property weren’t fit to drive.
“They just wanted everyone to go home, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t think we should scramble everyone. If people are under the influence, we need to find them safe ways of getting home: I’ll call every taxi in town and find every designated driver here.’”
Sound engineer Tom Plotnikoff said he’d set up stage amplifiers that were roughly as powerful as a bar room karaoke set.
“I’m sure some of the COVID protocols weren’t followed,” he said, noting between six and 10 people were “moshing” near the stage toward the end of the night. There was “no rowdiness” at the party, but Plotnikoff qualified that Peterson’s “good intentions” were perhaps marred by “poor execution.”
Peterson’s neighbours were generally upset. The Gazette spoke to around a dozen people at eight nearby addresses, most of whom said they weren’t told about the party.
The consensus was that the noise didn’t stop until around 11:30 p.m., roughly half an hour past the noise bylaw cut-off.
Peterson said the music was turned off by 11 p.m.
“One thing I do regret is not telling absolutely everyone in this neighbourhood that I was going to throw a party,” he said.
Peterson has one month to pay or dispute his tickets.
On Oct. 16, Interior Health stated there are currently 28 COVID-19 cases active and in isolation. Two people are in hospital. No one is in ICU.
This brings the total number of cases in the health region, since the start of the pandemic, to 590.
No criminal charges have been laid against Peterson as of Monday, Oct. 19.