concrete blocks toronto

Concrete blocks from Toronto cannabis store raids will be used to enforce social distancing

When all else fails: big concrete blocks. It's the Toronto way!

Toronto Mayor John Tory confirmed during his daily press conference on Thursday afternoon that, as rumoured, his team will be making use of the city's most-notorious giant cement bricks to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

The blocks, which rose to fame last spring after being featured in dozens of news articles about illegal cannabis stores continuing to operate without licenses despite municipal and provincial government orders, will be reprising their roles as access barriers beginning today.

"Around 15 sets of concrete blocks are being dropped at parking lot entrances, including at Sunnyside Park," said Tory the of the popular waterfront hangout spot, which has been packed with people in recent days despite desperate pleas from public health officials to stop congregating.

"I regret the fact we have to do this. You'd think that locking the parking lots and putting up gates and padlocking them would be enough, but we've had to do more because of what we've seen happening in the last couple of days."

It's not that the city wants to get more bang for the $350,000 they spent installing and uninstalling these blocks outside four CAFE stores last year (though that is a definite bonus,) it's that they need protect people from themselves amid a global pandemic.

As of Tuesday, nearly 900 people in Toronto had been infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus. Eighty-six are currently hospitalized and 11 have died as a result of contracting the virus.

And yet, like the weed shop owners who refused to shut down their operations despite regular police raids last spring, Toronto residents continue to defy the advice of public health officials by gathering along the lake.

"We continue to see, especially as the weather improves, people ignoring that advice and even worse, flocking to parks and even using closed playgrounds, closed parking lots and gathering with others to play sports in the parks," said Tory during today's press conference.

"This will further the spread of COVID-19 in our city and contribute to the costing of lives."

In addition to installing concrete blocks at parking lot entrances, Tory put a new bylaw into effect today that will see anyone walking within two metres of someone they don't live with penalized and fined up to $5,000 for disobeying emergency orders.

The bylaw will be in effect for at least the next 30 days.

"People have to keep their distance from each other to avoid spreading covid-19 further in our city," said Tory. "We will continue to do everything we can as a municipal government to lock the city down in order to save lives."

"To do less would be to ignore the lessons of New York City where in the past two days almost 200 people have died, bringing the total to 1,374 deaths in just over a couple of weeks," continued the mayor.

"I cannot, and will not allow Toronto to go down that path."

Lead photo by

Daniel Puiatti

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