Mississauga boxing gym defying provincial lockdown orders facing charges by City

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Owners of a Mississauga boxing gym who made the decision to defy provincial lockdown orders are facing obstruction fines of anywhere up to $100,000 and even $500,000.

Municipal law enforcement officers discovered the Huf Boxing Gym, located on 700 Dundas St. near Cawthra Road, was operating in contravention of the provincial regulations.

The City will be pursuing Part 3 obstruction charges under the Reopening Act. Sam Rogers, the City’s director of enforcement, said they are still processing evidence and the penalties and fines will be assed by the Justice of Peace. Those could total $100,000 for an individual or up to $500,000 for an individual or director of a corporation.

“This isn’t a standard Part 1 $880 ticket. This is for obstruction,” Rogers said at the mayor’s afternoon press conference. “Officers were unable to complete or perform their duties to the fullest today while responding to reports of this gym establishment operating.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the local gym’s decision to defy lockdown orders “defies logic.”

“I don’t have a lot of tolerance for this,” she said at the press conference. “They know the rules, everybody knows the rules. This is the most menacing of the three waves this pandemic and this is serious now. We’ve closed our schools, we’ve asked our retailers to close. We have not open restaurants, personal care providers have not opened and gyms can not be open.

“They know the rules and once they open those doors they will be issued a fine. We don’t make exceptions because they have their own interpretation of the rules or how they should be. The rules are very firm and they apply to everyone, including this particular gym.”

Earlier today, Huf Boxing Gym co-owner Teresa Heron told insauga.com that she was getting a lot of support for her decision to open the facility.

“We’ve received a lot of phone calls today and a lot of people are grateful that we are open, and they will be coming in,” Heron said in a phone interview.

Heron said she believes her business is “100 per cent” an essential service and that she’s “absolutely” willing to work with the city, province and all officials to get all businesses opened safely.

“My objective is not to cause chaos or make a spectacle,” she said. “I know some people are going to take this positively or negatively, the point is let’s work together as a community. Let’s work together to help places get reopened safely.

“It doesn’t look like the virus is going away, so what are we going to do? We’re going to hide in our houses the next five years? It’s not going to work, so we have to find another plan of action that’s going to help people feel safe, going to help people feel inspired and it’s going to help people feel more confident in getting out of their homes.”

While he understands the frustration business owners have in dealing with all the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said he’s making it clear that this isn’t a drill.

He said local hospitals our overwhelmed and people are succumbing to the virus in greater numbers.

“I don’t know what part of that people aren’t understanding,” Dr. Loh said. “This is no joke.”

“It’s disappointing for me as a medical professional to hear that, especially at this stage of the pandemic when we are so close that we would choose to break ranks and actually not take the opportunity to get through this together,” he added.

Heron said the gym has been practising the safety protocols laid out by the province and health officials. They screen people at the door, requiring them to put down their names and phone numbers and what time they were at the boxing facility.

“Everyone gets screened,” she said. “They take a spray bottle and cloth and wipe down everything they use.”

Heron’s frustrated with the decision to close small businesses, while big box scores, who she says don’t follow all protocols,  remain open.

“A lot of people died in the world so we can have freedom,” she said. “We live in Canada. Canada’s not supposed to be like now where we go into the grocery store or we go into a store and we can buy one item, but we can’t buy another item. What’s the difference? You’re all in the store.

“What’s the difference of blocking off items. It’s not like there’s any control of when the people are going in that there’s been disinfecting on the people’s way out. It not making any sense to me.”

Crombie didn’t hold back her disappointment with the gym, especially she says on a day when Peel Region has over 935 cases.

“This is wrong on so many levels,” the mayor said. “We need to get through this, but we need to do it together. I know businesses are frustrated. They have been frustrated for a very long time. I know they can’t wait to reopen. Gyms, in particular, personal care servers, restaurants, these are the kinds of businesses that haven’t been open for four months.

“We all sympathize with that, but with the kinds of conditions we’re experiencing right now with our case counts and the variants that are rampant and the conditions in the hospital such that if you needed personal care in a hospital, if you experienced a trauma and needed treatment you wouldn’t be able to receive it. Let’s use some common sense folks here, please. It’s not a time to open a gym or try and flaunt the rules. That’s just wrong.”

Heron says the community is suffering with all the lockdowns and restrictions.

She points children between the age of eight and 16 who, she says, are suffering from depression or anxiety from the lockdowns.

“These children are growing up with putting a mask on their face. Masks are not helping anyone,” Heron said, going against medical recommendations and several studies that have shown masks do work in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Staying at home, putting on a mask and being afraid of your own shadow is helping nobody at all. It’s causing depression, it’s causing anxiety, it’s causing people to hurt themselves and it needs to stop.

“Exercise is a great way to combat stress, anxiety.”

A mom of five teenage children, Heron says it’s scary knowing there’s children out there suffering silently from the lockdowns.

“We need to help the community get healthier,” she said. “Mental health, I think, has been overlooked with all the mandates that have been implemented and people need more support.

“I think our facility and through boxing is a great way to help combat that extra anxiety and that stress.”

HUF BOXING GYM PHOTO

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