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Crowds cause park closures in Halton


Too many people took to the parks in large numbers Saturday to take advantage of the beautiful weather and escape being cooped up while self distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of families with small children, couples, hikers and even rock climbers were out enjoying the trails and parks in Halton region.

Although the services and visitor centres at conservation areas across the province were officially closed, parking was at a premium as nature lovers, thinking they would be safely distanced at large parks like Mount Nemo, Hilton Falls, Crawford Lake, Mountsberg, Rattlesnake Point and Kelso, suddenly found themselves finding it difficult to do so, especially on the hiking trails.

Observing that the parking areas were at capacity, Conservation Halton tweeted out that they are closing all of their parks.

“Our parks are reaching maximum capacity and in order to keep our visitors safe, we are closing the parks as of now,” reads the tweet.

Conservation Halton continues to say, “If you are in the parks, we ask you to make your way back home. If you are planning to visit, we ask you to make other plans to connect with nature.”

Witnesses say for the most part, nature lovers were keeping a good distance away from each other but when children and narrow paths are at play it does make things more difficult.

Although the parking lots were near capacity, the people kept arriving, perhaps with the thought that there is ample space in the parks to practice self distancing, but the trouble is sometimes getting that much closer is unavoidable when mud, rocks and puddles are involved.

With all of the children’s play areas closed around the city, it does make things more of a challenge to get the kids exploring outside.

In Toronto’s High Park today, although there were a lot of people and parking was at capacity (Cherry Blossom level), people were doing their very best to stay at least 6 feet away from each other as recommended by Toronto Public Health.

Toronto Public Health suggests that gathering in parks may put families and the community at risk of exposure to to COVID-19.

“While exercise and enjoying the outdoors is important for those who are not self-isolating, these gatherings may pose a risk to the health of families and the wider community,” the city said. “To that end, the City will begin erecting signage near playgrounds reminding the public of the importance of social distancing and that playgrounds are not sanitized.”

In addition to all of the Halton parks closing, all of the region’s maple syrup events have been cancelled. Please see statement below:

story by Terry Lankstead

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