Hamilton to reopen city parks and Waterfront Trail, but not the falls and golf courses

Hamilton Ont. will open up parking lots adjacent to parks in addition to the Hamilton Waterfront Trail between Confederation Park and the Burlington Lift Bridge on Saturday May 9, 2020. Ken Mann / Global News

Hamilton, Ont. is opening up a little more public space for residents who want to get outdoors and stretch their legs during the Mother’s Day weekend, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a release on Friday morning, Mayor Fred Eisenberger gave the okay to open up parking lots adjacent to city parks and the Waterfront Trail between Confederation Park and the Burlington Lift Bridge starting Saturday, May 9.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Here’s how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 lockdown

“We’re now going to open them up so that people from wherever they are can enjoy them. But we ask them to be smart about how they do it,” Eisenberger told Global News.

“Park amenities like the swings and the play structures or tennis courts and golf courses are still closed and that’s by provincial orders.”

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The mayor went on to say all escarpment stairs will also remain closed, and Albion Falls will stay closed including parking lots around the falls.

Activities permitted in Hamilton’s parks, in groups of up to five people only, include playing catch, kicking a ball, and having a small picnic.

Also on Friday, the conservation authority (HCA) announced the opening of the Rail Trails across Hamilton.

The “phased” reopening will start Saturday and include:

Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail (Dundas)
Dofasco 2000 Trail (Stoney Creek)
Lafarge 2000 Trail (Flamborough)
Chippewa Trail (Hamilton)
Canal Park Trails (Dundas)

On Wednesday, the city’s emergency operations centre director said much of the city on the Mother’s Day weekend will look a lot like it did on the Easter holiday, with a lot of the city’s amenities remaining closed.

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“You can’t gather, not getting together with friends, and you’re not going to be able to have those parties,” said Paul Johnson.

Johnson said those restrictions will continue into the first long weekend in May — next weekend — which includes a ban on fireworks across the region.

“We’re not allowing the sale or the public display of fireworks through that weekend,” said Johnson. “It’s all those things that might drive people to come together. We want to stop that right now.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Doug Ford visited cottage despite pleas for Ontario residents to stay home

During the city’s town hall on Wednesday, the city’s medical officer of health revealed another increase in the time it’s taking to double the city’s cases and that 66 per cent of all the city’s COVID-19 cases have been resolved.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said those “good signs” over the last few weeks likely mean the city is seeing the downside of the peak in the pandemic for Hamilton.

“So I think those are all the good signs that you are seeing,” Richardson said. “But we have to keep vigilant. I think that’s why you see the province, Ontario, extending those emergency orders through the Victoria Day weekend.”

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The forecast for the coming weekend is expected to be cool with a frost advisory and temperatures well below seasonal values according to Environment Canada.

“An extended period of significantly colder than normal temperatures will result in several days of frost,” the agency said in a statement on Friday morning.

Saturday’s forecast is for a mix of sun and cloud and a chance of flurries with a high of only 6 C. Sunday will be mainly cloudy with a high of 12 C.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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