SUDBURY -- For the third straight weekend, Sault Ste. Marie Police attended Bellevue Park to monitor what officers deemed to be an illegal gathering. Officials said officers attempted to stop the latest incident before it began.

“We tried to head this off by putting out messaging and discussing some of the ramifications with people who were involved in this to try and prevent it from happening,” said Sault Police spokesman Lincoln Louttit.

“We understand people are frustrated and people are getting anxious with the current provincial order, but it’s (the duty of police) to ensure those orders are followed.”

Louttit said those suspected of organizing an illegal gathering under the Emergency Management & Civil Protection Act could receive a hefty fine.

“There’s a public safety risk here -- that’s why medical professionals are advising against gatherings with people outside of your household,” he said. “We wanted people to be well aware of what the consequences are. If you’re deemed to be an organizer, that’s a minimum $10,000 fine for organizing one of these gatherings.”

Ari Goldkind, a Toronto criminal defence lawyer, said while the tickets will likely stand up in court, people can still challenge the government edict.

“Take your ticket, set it down for a court date, wait until later this year or next year and have your day in court, and very reasonable prosecutors will probably be willing to deal,” said Goldkind. “Don’t fight the police, don’t fight bylaw officers, don’t let yourself get charged with obstruct(ing) police.”

Sault Police said a Springwater Township man has been charged a third time with organizing an illegal gathering at Bellevue Park. In addition to the organizer, eight people were charged last Saturday with attending that gathering, and each can face a fine of $750.