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Toronto enforcement officers see smarter behaviour, problem areas persist incl. High Park


The City of Toronto continues to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) enforcement officers and Toronto police have been at City parks across the city this weekend to educate the public and enforce physical distancing and park amenity closures.

The enforcement blitz is targeting busy parks, particularly the top 10 problem areas observed by City staff and reported to 311.

But early reports from frontline enforcement staff are encouraging. Many people in city parks are practising physical distancing and only travelling in small groups from the same household. In many instances, where enforcement officers have spoken to park goers, people have responded positively to education about public health recommendations and willingly adjusted their behaviour. 

The City thanks the vast majority of people who are doing the right thing by staying home as much as possible and keeping their distance from others in public. 

Problem Areas around the city

Some problem locations persist. Yesterday, 311 received 141 complaints about gatherings and unsafe behaviour at parks. In just the first day of the enforcement blitz, 800 vehicles were turned away at Bluffers Park and 140 vehicles were deterred from parking at High Park. Police also issued 19 parking tickets. Other problem areas include Trinty Bellwoods Park, Marie Curtis Park and Ashbridges Bay among many others.

Twitter Photo by Norm Kelly

Of great concern is the already busy High Park which will receive even more visitors as the famous cherry blossoms bloom. Mayor Tory said, “Big parks like High Park, what are you going to do put yellow tape around the entire park? But I think what we have talked about is closing vehicle access to the park entirely so that people can’t take their cars in cause a lot of people who come to see the cherry blossoms come from elsewhere in the city. It is a shame but it is just one of those things where health has to come first,” Tory added.

Tory said on CP24 Monday that he is considering closing the park at least for Cherry blossom time late April-early May.

The park is famous for its sakura cherry blossom trees donated in 1959 by former Japanese ambassador Toru-Hagiwara. 2,000 trees were donated on behalf of Tokyo in appreciation of friendship for Toronto taking in Japanese-Canadians following World War II.

Yesterday’s offenders

Enforcement staff reported today that, over the course of yesterday, MLS and police officers spoke with 780 people to educate them on public health recommendations and closures and cautioned a further 373 people. Police issued nine tickets while MLS officers gave out one ticket related to park amenities and five to non-essential businesses that were operating in violation of provincial orders. Toronto Public Health received 28 complaints related to non-essential businesses remaining open and issued two notices. 

Toronto Public Health is reporting there are now 1,232 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, an increase of 113 cases from yesterday. Of the cases, 1,026 cases are confirmed and 206 are probable, 69 cases have recovered, 140 are in hospital with 58 in ICU. In Toronto, there have been 25 deaths to-date. Community spread is responsible for 25% of COVID-19 cases in the city. This data was extracted from the Integrated Public Health Information System at 12:30 p.m. The numbers may differ from other sources as data are extracted at different times. 

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