Parks: leash free, play and exercise areas closed.

As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, Mayor Tory has acted to discourage groups of people hanging out together in Toronto’s parks.

From the city’s site:

“All City-owned playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other parks amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system, are closed.”

This may be in response to reports of people not maintaining a sufficient distance.

Read more about affected city services here.

In New York, they are considering similar measures but to compensate, will close some streets to (already greatly reduced) traffic so that people will have more places to get some fresh air.

Urban Park Rangers – coming to a park near you.

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After much study and consultation, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation has produced a five-year parks plan to be implemented, beginning this year (subject to City Council approval).

Extensive consultation of citizens, staff and industry experts determined four basic functions of parks management:

1. Communicate and connect with users
2. Preserve and promote nature
3. Maintain quality parks
4. Improve system planning

One of the more interesting proposals under Item 1 is the introduction of an Urban Park Ranger who would be a more visible presence in parks and would be a

‘primary point of contact for individuals and groups wanting to engage with the parks system and build relationships with community stakeholders’

Combing through the corporate jargon of relationships and stakeholders (are community stakeholders the people using the park barbecues? Ed.), it appears that park rangers will be the human face of the park system and will be tasked with ensuring that City and park by-laws are more more rigorously enforced. A commitment to providing or improving park amenities such as washrooms, signage, shade areas and benches is also proposed. Another interesting idea is the establishment of a centralized parks volunteer and donations system. Businesses and people might like to donate money, land or time to the parks system but at the moment there is no formal system in place.

This will be a timely intervention for our local parks that can sometimes look a bit neglected when compared to the elaborate facilities and displays found in more upscale areas of Toronto.

The plan is a long read but well worth the effort. Comments on the proposal can be directed here.

Cycle Path Update

End of the trail, Cruickshank Park looking north.

Just a quick item to inform readers that the City of Toronto is looking for input on their new multi-use bicyle lane projects as outlined here. From the link is an input form that looks like it has to be printed off and faxed.

The city would like to extend the bike trail that ends abruptly at Cruickshank Park and link it via the riverbank to rejoin the network north of the 401 avoiding streets and traffic entirely. Apparently the various property owners along the route have been consulted.

Perhaps it won't.

Another project proposes extending the west-rail path north along the rail lines.  Right now their plan is to come north and when it reaches Black Creek and Weston, to follow north along the creek.  Ideally, it would continue along the railway and head up into Weston Village.

The bad news is that the deadline for for comments is Friday February 24.