Another beautiful, sunny weekend in Toronto has come and gone, only rather than seeing a concerning number of people hanging out at parks and public spaces, residents appeared to have listened to the urges of the government and stayed inside – for the most part, at least.
And while some people still went outside to enjoy some much-needed fresh air, Mayor John Tory said he believes residents are finally starting to get the message and are practicing proper social distancing after weeks of warnings from various public officials.
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“I think that we’re in the right place now in terms of people understanding and that’s why they were more cooperative on the weekend and that this is a matter of life or death,” said Mayor Tory on Monday morning.
Mayor Tory said over the course of the weekend, hundreds of people were issued warnings for not practicing proper social distancing etiquette, rather than being issued tickets, which is what the City wanted.
“I think the warnings were people that perhaps let things slip for a minute but I think people are getting the message and I hope that they continue to get the message because this next couple of weeks is key to seeing whether that trend line continues up or whether it starts to slow down,” Tory said.
“I think it will continue to go up for a bit yet based on all the projections we have been told but we have the ability to influence that and I hope we do.”
I think that people are starting to get the message that we need everyone to do their part to stop the spread of #COVID19 in our city. I hope that people will continue to behave responsibly over these next few weeks, as they will be key in our efforts to #FlattenTheCurve. pic.twitter.com/yM1n6o20W3
— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 6, 2020
This comes after a weekend blitz to enforce a new City bylaw that prohibits people from being within two metres of one another in public squares and parks. Anyone found to be in violation of the city’s new bylaw faces a set fine of $1,000.
This weekend, Toronto Police Service, ML&S bylaw enforcement officers and PF&R staff are out in parks across the city providing public education and enforcing physical distancing. The enforcement blitz is targeting busy parks and the top 10 emerging problem areas.
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) April 4, 2020
According to the City, enforcement officers spoke to 780 people on Saturday and issued warnings to 373 of them, but only wrote nine tickets in total.
Police also turned away 800 vehicles at Bluffers Park and 140 vehicles at High Park on Saturday. A total of 19 parking tickets were written, while Municipal Licensing & Standards enforcement officers gave out one ticket related to park amenities and five to non-essential businesses that were operating in violation of provincial orders.
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) April 5, 2020
This comes after Tory has continuously expressed frustration with members of the public openly using closed recreational amenities at the City’s parks and continuing to gather in large numbers at popular public spaces.
The City has said the blitz is focusing on the top 10 problem areas observed by staff and reported to 311, which include:
- Bluffers Park
- Canoe Landing Park
- Christie Pits Park
- High Park
- Humber Bay Park East
- Sunnyside Park
- Trinity Bellwoods Park
- Van Horne Park
- Woodbine Park
- Sherwood Park