tobogganing toronto

City of Toronto says people have been breaking into closed ski hills to toboggan

It's the middle of winter in the most drastic iteration of pandemic lockdown possible in Ontario, so understandably, residents are scrambling to find activities to get them out of the house in the limited ways they are still permitted and able to do so.

In Toronto, this means a whole lot of meandering walks around the city, ice skating or tobogganing if you want to get active — and we're already seeing the problems that come with too many people are too few places to go and things to do.

Over the holidays, toboggan hills across the city were found packed full of people hanging out and chatting shoulder to shoulder, maskless.

And, ice rinks have been similarly busy, though we thankfully have an online booking system in place to reserve time slots and ensure physical distancing between guests, though apparently booking availability has been extremely limited.

Another issue that's apparently been happening, according to city officials, is people breaking into closed ski hills and rinks to have a little bit of illicit off-hours fun.

"Unfortunately, we continue to experience issues with respect to the use of outdoor ice rinks after hours," Toronto Fire Chief and pandemic response lead Matthew Pegg said at a City press briefing on Wednesday, in which he revealed that 19 tresspassing tickets have been issued as a result.

Some troublemakers have even been managing to break into ski and snowboard hills such as the North York Ski Centre, which have been closed provincewide as of Boxing Day, for "various activities including tobogganing," he added.

This can pose serious safety rinks, especially unmonitored and under the cloak of darkness.

The City has now had to ramp up the presence of police officers and security personnel to such sites to ensure that people stay off the ice and hills overnight. 

Pegg entreated residents who want to engage in safe outdoor sport to consult the city's official list of dozens of sanctioned toboggan hills, where they are free to hit the slopes if they are able to maintain a safe distance from others.

Bylaw officers and the department of Parks, Forestry and Recreation will continue to charge anyone they find taking a little joyride or free skate illicitly during lockdown.

Nearly 100,000 Ontarians who are mourning the loss of this year's ski season, meanwhile, have signed a petition for Premier Doug Ford to allow resorts to reopen during lockdown to provide the easily socially-distanced and masked activity.

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