People worry other parks in Toronto could become like Trinity Bellwoods
Trinity Bellwoods has become infamous over the past few days for being the park of choice for irresponsible drinkers to gather and socialize while ignoring social distancing rules, but some Toronto residents fear this is also happening in other parks around the city.
Though Bellwoods has received the vast majority of the (negative) attention since close to 10,000 people gathered in the park on Saturday — prompting the premier to say the scene resembled a rock concert — people in the city are reporting seeing similar situations in other nearby parks like Jimmie Simpson and Christie Pits.
"Where does this meme that every park in the city except Bellwoods is empty coming from? I wasn't out and about yesterday but every time I pass Christie Pits or Bickford on a beautiful weekend they are packed to the gills. And there aren't that many glass towers near them," wrote one Twitter user online on Sunday.
"Jimmie Simpson park in Leslieville was packed, big groups partying," wrote another. "Need more bylaw officers."
Yeah I have been cynical too but today is bananas. Leslieville same down at Jimmie Simpson Park.— Shazia (She/Her) 🏄🏽♀️ (@cybershaz) May 23, 2020
Others pointed out that both Coronation Park and Stanley Park were completely packed with people this weekend, while another said there were "so many people out drinking" in Christie Pits on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Friends of Kensington Market addressed the issue of crowding in other parks on Sunday by outwardly asking community members not to "let what happened in Trinity Bellwoods yesterday happen here."
Still, no other parks have yet to see the same level of rowdiness and crowding that took place in Bellwoods on Sunday, and the City is trying to keep it that way.
Following Saturday's Trinity Bellwoods incident, the City put out a statement about gathering in large groups as well as enforcement in the park.
They said that on Sunday, many bylaw and police officers patrolled Trinity Bellwoods throughout the day while educating residents about physical distancing and proper use of the park. They called this "successful" and said that "although many people enjoyed the park, there was not a repeat of Saturday."
In the same statement, the City encouraged anyone who arrives at a park that is already packed with people to instead visit a different one.
"If a park is crowded when residents arrive, we encourage them to visit a different park, or come back later," they wrote on Twitter. "Parks near Trinity Bellwoods Park include Stanley Park and Alexandra Park. Bickford Park, Art Eggleton Park, Christie Pits Park and Dufferin Grove Park are also close."
But while this may be a good solution in theory, what happens when the other parks are already packed with people too?
This issue has led many to refrain from placing blame on the park partiers and instead to point out that there simply isn't enough green space to serve the number of people living in this city.
"Blaming and shaming those who gather in parks is not helpful," wrote health columnist Andre Picard in a a Globe and Mail opinion piece titled Don't blame those who gather in parks — blame the city. "What these gatherings show is not that young people are irresponsible but that the cities we have are not the cities we need."
Trinity Bellwoods Park in an area where many people don't have backyards / access to their own green space. No surprise the weekend the city opens its parks, people go. These physically distant circles exist right now in places like San Francisco and New york. Why not Toronto? pic.twitter.com/C3MfbWhDIp— Farah Nasser (@FarahNasser) May 24, 2020
The City said yesterday that they're actively looking into introducing the solution of social distancing circles in Toronto parks, as several other cities have successfully done, to ensure that people can get outside while maintaining space between small groups.
"To assist residents with physical distancing, the City is exploring the use of circles painted on the grass, as has been successful in other jurisdictions," they wrote on Twitter. "This will be piloted in Trinity Bellwoods Park, and staff will evaluate the effectiveness of this measure and may expand it."
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