OPP clarifies boot drive fundraising laws

KAGAWONG—Groups like the Billings Volunteer Fire Department cannot hold fundraising boot drives until a municipality has a set bylaw in place that supports this type of activity, according to the province.

“This letter (from Manitoulin Ontario Provincial Police Staff Sergeant-Detachment Commander Kevin Webb) was forwarded to our (Billings) volunteer fire department,” Billings township clerk Kathy McDonald told council at a meeting last week.

“Yes, it is against the law to stop traffic,” said Staff Sergeant Webb, “with exception: if a municipal bylaw is in place the community can allow for this type of fundraising. And it also has to be for a charitable organization and have proper licencing.”

In a letter to the municipality of Billings, dated July 20, 2016, Staff Sergeant Webb explained that concerning the solicitation of monies from public citizens under the safe streets act, 1999, “it has recently been brought to my attention that some municipalities are endorsing fundraising by volunteers approaching vehicles on roadways such as boot drives. The solicitation of monies from persons in vehicles on roadways is illegal. Participants soliciting funds can be charged under the Safe Streets Act (SSA). If a municipality has a set bylaw that supports the solicitation of monies, the bylaw would encompass all organizations and there needs to be some coordination with the police.”

The Safe Streets Act, 1999 states, “no person shall, Sec. 3(2)(f) while on a roadway, solicit a person who is in or on a stopped, standing or parked vehicle. 1999,c.8, s.3(2).” Under Permitted fund-raising by charities “Sec. 3 Subsection (2) does not apply to fund-raising activities that meet the following conditions; 1. They are conducted by a charitable organization registered under the Income Tax Act (Canada) on a roadway where the maximum speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour; 2. They are permitted by a bylaw of the municipality in which the activities are conducted. 2005, c.32, s.1.”

It was pointed out the Billings Fire Department held a boot drive as part of the annual Billings Summerfest celebrations in July, and subsequently received a letter from the Manitoulin OPP.

“We (Billings Fire Department) will comply until the bylaw is passed by council,” stated Councillor Imrie.