illegal parties toronto

Toronto police busted more than 200 illegal parties over the weekend

As the longest lockdown in North America drags on, Toronto residents appear to be growing bolder when it comes to operating outside the law (which at this point includes provincewide stay-at-home orders.)

Either that, or police are finally cracking down for real on the kind of illegal private house parties that have been taking place all over the city since last summer.

Whatever the case — likely a combination of pandemic fatigue, warmer weather and enhanced enforcement efforts — hundreds of people were caught this past weekend attending illegal gatherings in Toronto.

Toronto Police announced on Monday that officers had attended "approximately 210 gatherings in response to calls from the public about noisy parties" since Thursday, most of them indoors and within the downtown core.

Members of the service's new dedicated stay-at-home order enforcement teams, of which there are 16, laid more than 160 charges under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) in total between Thursday and Monday, according to police, plus eight criminal charges for offences including assault and obstruction.

"Saturday, April 24, was the busiest night with teams responding to reports across the city at premises including houses, apartments, short-term rentals and businesses," reads a release issued by the Toronto Police Service.

"In one call over the weekend, officers arrived at a condo in the King Street West and Portland Street area where they were met with a large number of people inside the property."

"While attending another noisy party call in the York Street and Harbour Street area, officers could hear loud music coming from another nearby unit," the release continues.

"They investigated and discovered the apartment was being used as a short-term rental and six people were charged under the EMCPA."

It's no secret that people have been gathering inside houses and apartments to hang out with their friends in numbers far larger than what has been legally permitted pretty much ever since lockdown orders first went into effect.

Police have announced several individual large-scale party busts over the past year, but this marks the first time that officers really went whole-hog in storming illegal gatherings en masse.

"While I want to thank the vast majority of residents who are respecting the law, too many people – mostly adults - are having parties and hosting large gatherings in Toronto every day and night," said TPS Chief James Ramer on Monday. "It has to stop."

They may not visibly be cracking down on some outdoor activities yet, but Ramer assures the public that his new enforcement teams won't stop looking for parties to crash.

“We are at a critical point in this pandemic and these teams will continue to be deployed across the city every day to lay charges against those who are disrespecting provincial and public health orders," he said.

"At a time when positive case counts continue to rise to worrying numbers and hospital ICU admissions are at their highest, it’s extremely disappointing to see people having parties and gatherings and putting themselves, their families, healthcare workers and First Responders at increased risk."

Under current provincewide shutdown restrictions, indoor and outdoor social gatherings of any kind are banned (with few exceptions, including those taking place among members of the same household.)

Hosts of such gatherings can be fined between $10,000 and $100,000, while individuals caught attending them can be dinged with fines of $750 to $100,000.

Lead photo by

Helena Yankovska

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