By ALI RAZA
The City of Toronto has begun a slow yet steady reopening of its park amenities as of May 20 with more planned for the upcoming May 23 weekend.
Following advice from Toronto Public Health, the city has decided to reopen more than 850 park amenities that were temporarily closed in late March to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
That includes 70 off-leash dark parks, five BMX locations, 14 skateboard parks, and four disc golf locations – already opened as of May 20. Locally, the Beach Skatepark and the Beaches Disc Golf Course are among those amenities now open again.
On the May 23 weekend the city plans to reopen picnic shelters, 300 soccer and multi-use outdoor fields, 300 baseball diamonds, 150 basketball courts, and 600 tennis courts. Reopening will continue into next week with open lawn bowling facilities and outdoor bocce ball.
Likewise, the Toronto District School Board has also announced a reopening of its sports fields, and basketball and tennis courts for individual use beginning May 21.
But the reopening on both city and school board property follows strict physical distancing guidelines in place since March by the city and the province. Those include maintaining a physical distance of two metres from other individuals not from the same household and a restriction on gatherings of more than five people who are not members of the same household.
While the parks have reopened, the parking lots at Woodbine Beach Park and Ashbridges Bay Park that were initially closed on March 30 in response to gatherings contrary to the physical distancing bylaw, will remain closed until further notice.
However, Lake Shore Boulevard’s eastbound lanes between Coxwell Avenue and Kew Beach Avenue near those parks will be closed this May 23 weekend as part of the city’s ActiveTO road closures to allow more space for physical distancing.
Parks are open for walking, running, cycling, picnics, dog-walking, boating, kayaking, canoeing, BMX, skateboarding, disc golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, and various racquet sports provided proper social distancing is maintained and number of participants is limited.
Only individual use is permitted at some park amenities. Team sports are not allowed unless the members are from the same household. Permits from the city for soccer, multi-use fields, and baseball diamonds regarding team activities remain cancelled until June 29. Permits from the TDSB remain cancelled until further notice.
Still closed are park amenities such as playgrounds, play structures, equipment, fixed barbecues, outdoor exercise equipment, greenhouses, nurseries, conservatories, ice rinks, park washrooms, High Park Zoo, and Riverdale Farm.
Residents are also not permitted to use their own barbecue in a City of Toronto park.
The City of Toronto’s municipally run golf courses are open for the 2020 season under public health guidelines. Physical distancing must be followed, and tee times must be booked in advance. Locally, this means Dentonia Park Golf Course on Victoria Park Avenue is open. The course can be contacted at 416-392-2558 or by visiting https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/golf/dentonia-park/
The City of Toronto reminds residents that those who fail to follow the temporary physical distancing bylaw can receive a $1,000 ticket.
Signage at all parks will remind residents of the guidelines and the city’s COVID-19 Enforcement Team will monitor parks to ensure physical distancing is followed. If necessary, the city can also close a park or any part of it in the interest of public health and safety.
For more on the use of park amenities in Toronto, please visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/?accordion=parks