Toronto Mayor condemns large crowd at Trinity Bellwoods Park

Park-goers crammed into Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday drawing the ire of elected officials and members of the public. Eileen de Villa Twitter

On Saturday, thousands of people were spotted in Toronto parks, gathering in large groups and ignoring social distancing rules.

Massive public gatherings, such case those seen in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday, have the potential to ruin the efforts that residents have committed to over the past ten weeks to combat the virus, the City continued. Warm weather and a reduction in COVID-19 restrictions has many looking to the outdoors for relief. "Public gatherings, like today's in Trinity Bellwoods Park, threaten to undo the hard and challenging work residents of this city have done over the last 10 weeks in their collective effort to beat COVID-19".

"Having police and municipal bylaw enforcement in the park helps make people understand why we are doing what we are doing", he said Sunday. But congregating in large groups without adhering to the strict physical distancing guidelines puts not only these people at risk but also anyone that they come in contact with.

The statement said people are encouraged to go out, but must stay two metres apart from anyone not from their household, citing health advice from Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa. "It was a lovely day & we all want to enjoy our city together, but this could be selfish & unsafe behaviour that could set us back", read the Villa's tweet.

"Upon making one delivery to Trinity Bellwoods and a couple more to Christie Pits we soon realized that we could not play a part in encouraging this type of behaviour and made a decision to put a hold on this until it is safe".

The statement also added the vast majority of parks across the city were used responsibly.

As of Sunday, the province has had 25,500 confirmed new coronavirus cases and 2,140 deaths, compared to 84,000 cases and 6,447 nationwide. Of that number, 750 people have died and 7,202 have recovered.

The crowd scenes sparked an online backlash and caused the park to trend on Twitter.

Tory as well as Councillor Brad Bradford visited a number of newly opened park amenities on Saturday, including the stretch of Lake Shore East that was closed to traffic for the ActiveTO initiative to allow people to walk and bike while maintain social distance.

Mayor John Tory called the crowds at the popular park "incredibly disappointing".

They added the physical distancing bylaw will be strictly enforced as well.

"There was zero per cent chance they didn't know what the rules are", Tory said.

Don Peat, Tory's press secretary, said the mayor went to the park to speak to people about physical distancing after hearing of the crowds. "Going outside is good for physical and mental health, but at a distance. But we are in the middle of a global pandemic and we are not out of the woods in the city", she told CP24 on Sunday. "Anything but. Please, we are all in this together".

Ross said while there is "no excuse" for people urinating in driveways and backyards, the city is working to reopen washrooms in public parks.

"In the images I saw yesterday from Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, I thought it was a rock concert". "As tough as it may be to run a small business in these times, it is not worth running the risk of putting our city in a potentially worse situation".



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