CELOS researchers (who are not lawyers) looked at whether or not the Public Works Protection Act could apply to a city parks building. To see the law for yourself, and to check for any updates, see http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90p55_e.htm.
This law came to researchers' attention from news reports of a couple of youth with backpacks sitting in Queen's Park during the G20 meetings in June 2010. Police insisted on searching and getting the youths' ID's under these powers. The story stated that the area of the "public work" was defined as within 5 meters of the fence around the G20 meeting area downtown.
This law, which gives appointed guards wide powers to stop, search people, and/or refuse entry to a municipal building, could be used if any of the following officials first "deem" a person to be a "guard" under this law: the Solicitor General, an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) inspector or the OPP Commissioner, a chief of police, a mayor or deputy mayor, or chair/head of a public board in charge of the building (s. 2).
The Act does not set out the process for "deeming" someone as a guard and thereby giving guards the wide powers set out in this law. Section 4 suggests that this may be done by a spoken order.
In certain cases, there seem to be no clear limits as to the boundaries of a "public work", and therefore, the extent of the area within which a guard can exercise his/her wide powers under this law; section 4, copied below states that the sworn statement of the person who appoints a guard under this law (presumably after the fact) is "conclusive evidence" of the boundary.
A guard who doesn't do his/her job can be fined (if found guilty) up to $ 500 or imprisoned for up to 2 months. (s. 2(4))
A person who refuses to obey a guard's order is subject to arrest without warrant and the same penalty as a guard. (s. 5)
Below are some key sections of the short law.
Public Works Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER P.55
1.In this Act,
“guard” means a guard appointed under this Act; (“gardien”)
“public work” includes,
(b) any provincial and any municipal public building, and
(c) any other building, place or work designated a public work by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. (“ouvrage public”) R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 1.
3.A guard or peace officer,
(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;
(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and
(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 3.
Statement under oath to be conclusive evidence
4.For the purposes of this Act, the statement under oath of an officer or employee of the government, board, commission, municipal or other corporation or other person owning, operating or having control of a public work, as to the boundaries of the public work is conclusive evidence thereof. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 4.
See also: Star article Dalton McGuinty, Bill Blair defend quiet boost in arrest powers
Attachments to document: Public Works