Toronto residents urged to 'think very carefully' about avoiding packed beaches
TORONTO -- Mayor John Tory is pleading with residents to “think very carefully” about where they go to relax and cool off this weekend amid a sweltering heat wave that will inevitably result in big crowds at city beaches.
Environment Canada issued a heat warning for the city on Thursday afternoon, warning that a tropical air mass will bring several days of temperatures in the low to mid 30s with humidex values likely to make it feel closer to 40 at times.
The weather agency said that the hot conditions will last until “at least Monday.”
In advance of the heat wave, the city has opened its 14 cooling centres and has also extended the opening hours until 11:45 p.m. at seven outdoor pools.
Speaking with reporters during a press conference outside a North York community centre on Friday, Tory said that the city is “very, very close” to advancing to stage three of the province’s reopening plan but just can’t afford a “series of intensive crowd scenes where people don’t follow the health guidelines,” something that he said is a concern whenever the temperatures spike.
“We have seen what happens when people just assume there is no problem and behave themselves accordingly and the result would be that we can’t open the city up as wide as we want to anytime soon,” he warned. “I would just ask people that if you go to a place and it looks like it is already a big crowd scene think about going somewhere else and if you are on a beach and there are other people there, which inevitably on weekends like this there will be, please consider wearing a face covering even though it may not be a natural place to do it.”
There have already been a number of large parties that have taken place at Woodbine Beach and Cherry Beach so far this summer and as a result the city has begun closing the parking lots at some of its beaches after 7 p.m. on weekends.
There have also, at times, been large crowds reported at other beaches with people not always following physical distancing guidelines.
Earlier this month, large crowds actually prompted officials in Wasaga Beach to limit the number of beachfront parking spots available and begin limiting the number of people allowed onto the municipal portion of beach itself. Other cities, however, have not followed suit.
On Friday, Tory said he understands that people will be looking for ways to “get outside and get some relief from the heat” this weekend but he said that he hopes that desire does not get in the way of public health advice, which still stipulates that people should be at least two metres apart from those outside of their circles.
“I ask for your cooperation because in the end it is for your benefit,” he said. “ Your ability to have a good time sooner in the city, a real good time, a broadened out good time in more places whether it is sports or patios or restaurants, will depend on the degree to which we make the effort to follow the health advice now.”
The city has said that bylaw enforcement officers as well as police and firefighters “will have a highly visible presence” at beaches this weekend “to ensure that crowds and bonfires and other prohibited activities do not occur or are dealt with quickly should they occur.”
The beaches with parking restrictions after 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are as follows:
- Marie Curtis Park
- Humber Bay West Park
- Cherry Beach
- Bluffer’s Park