Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)

Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

A restaurant near the Nanaimo Airport has been ordered to shut down for failing to comply with COVID-19 public health orders, but the owner says he’s going to stay open.

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According to a Jan. 20 inspection report, Chakalaka Bar and Grill failed to create a written COVID-19 safety plan, post signs about mask-wearing or health checks, and place barriers between tables. The owner was ordered to address the failings, but a follow-up inspection found he did not comply.

“The premises is to remain closed until written approval to re-open has been granted by a health officer,” the inspection report said.

Chakalaka owner Dick Deschamps told Black Press Media he refused to create a COVID-19 safety plan because he believes COVID-19 is ‘no more deadly’ than the common cold. Deschamps did not provide evidence for his claim but said ‘friends’ and ‘scientists’ had come forward and proven the claim scientifically.

Scientific consensus has found that COVID-19 is, in fact, far more severe than the common cold. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that globally, 3,021,793 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported, whereas the World Health Organization estimates 290,000 to 650,000 people die of flu-related causes each year. There have been 141 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide compared to an estimated 1 billion cases of flu worldwide annually.

As of Friday, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control was reporting 555 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, 4,233 cases total, and 33 confirmed deaths.

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Island Health originally visited Chakalaka in September 2020 after receiving a complaint about multiple RVs parked on the property. An inspection of the site revealed adjustments made to the drinking water and sewage disposal systems were found to be in violation of the Drinking Water Protection Act and Public Health Act. Orders were issued mandating the owners take steps to achieve compliance.

“Compliance with the Drinking Water Protection Act is of critical importance to protect the health and safety of all users of the water system. Further, the lack of compliance with the Public Health Act related to the sewage disposal system presents a contamination risk to the area’s drinking water,” Island Health said in a statement.

“Despite significant efforts to work with the property owners to achieve compliance with applicable Acts and Orders, no progress towards compliance has been observed.”

Island Health is seeking a court-order injunction enforcing its orders tied to both the COVID-19 and water and sewer concerns. A hearing of the injunction application is set to occur in Victoria on April 23.

Deschamps added that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives him the ability to ignore public health orders and he will continue serving customers.

“I’m not fighting, I’m just staying open,” he said.