The City of Belleville would like to remind residents that despite trails being open during the coronavirus pandemic, parks and green spaces are not.
According to the city, bylaw officers have been issuing warnings to people who have been leaving trails and congregating in the city’s open green spaces.
On April 6, Belleville police issued a fine under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Police say they haven’t had to issue any more fines, but have received multiple complaints from the public. Despite these complaints, police say people have been listening to directives from law enforcement once they are given a warning.
Like all other municipalities in Ontario, the city was forced to close all recreation spaces under Ontario’s emergency order, enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the city has kept walking trails open to give people in the area an outlet to access nature and get exercise.
“The waterfront trails remain open at this time, providing the opportunity to be outdoors and exercise but you need to respect the signage along the trails and ensure you maintain physical distancing,” a news release from the city read.
Most playgrounds, picnic areas and enclosed spaces, like the Corby Rose Garden, have been fenced off for the public’s protection.
But not all park spaces have been closed off since many trails cut across these spaces. Although residents are allowed to walk on trails, the city says they should not be wandering off into open greenspaces.
“Residents need to understand that even though these trails will lead them through many of our gorgeous parks, they can’t leave the trail and go into the parks,” said Mayor Mitch Panciuk.
“For now, we ask you to always practise physical distancing and admire our green spaces from the beaten path.”
The city says both bylaw and Belleville police will be prepared to ticket those ignoring the emergency order if need be.
Ontario’s state of emergency was extended until at least May 12, but it’s possible emergency measures will last longer. Both Ottawa and Brockville have extended their municipal emergency declarations until the end of June.View link »