Chin-ups at a west end park — where amenities remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic — have earned a Toronto man an $880 fine.
Dylan Finlay went for a run in Centennial Park on Tuesday, but when he made his usual stop to do chin-ups, a bylaw officer got in the way.
“He told me I shouldn’t have been using the chin-up bar,” Finlay said.
“I apologized. I asked for a warning.”
Finlay instead got a ticket for $880 including the victim surcharge for allegedly violating the emergency order issued by the Ontario government.
He said he didn’t realize it meant all park amenities were off-limits.
“I assumed if it didn’t have caution tape or a sign on it, it was safe to use and I didn’t really think there would be a really big risk of getting COVID-19 from an outdoor chin-up bar,” he said.
Local city councillor Stephen Holyday told Global News fines like Finlay’s are handed out for a reason.
“If I was writing the ticket, I’d write a $5,000 ticket,” he said.
Bylaw officers have spoken to more than 8,500 people about physical distancing in recent weeks, Holyday said, and have issued more than 200 tickets.
“People need to get this message,” he said. “Someone can die if this virus is spread.”
Finlay’s ticket comes days after a citation for a similar infraction by the Nelson family just west of Toronto in Oakville, after they went rollerblading in a community centre parking lot.
“In terms of the spirit of social distancing, it was just our immediate family,” Todd Nelson said on Sunday of the experience with his three boys.
“We weren’t with anybody, we weren’t touching anything.”
As of April 11, Toronto enforcement officers moved to almost exclusively issue tickets rather than warnings to people gathering in groups or using closed amenities in parks, according to a news release on the city’s website.
“I understand that people want to get out and do exercise,” Holyday said.
“Walking is great. Taking a jog through the park is great, as long as you follow the rules.”
As for Finlay, he said he doesn’t plan to use park amenities anymore.
The criminal defence lawyer said he plans to appeal, possibly challenging the constitutionality of the emergency order.
“Why are we punishing people who are in the middle of a field kicking a ball around?” he asked.
“It doesn’t make any sense.”