Vaughan closes several outdoor amenities amid new COVID-19 provincial restrictions

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Vaughan closes outdoor skating, tobogganing' Coronavirus: Vaughan closes outdoor skating, tobogganing
WATCH ABOVE: Last year, Vaughan was the first Ontario municipalities to close libraries and other amenities in the days prior to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic. Now, Vaughan becomes the first city in York Region to close outdoor skating and tobogganing. The mayor says it is the right thing to do as coronavirus numbers remain high. Seán O’Shea reports – Jan 15, 2021

The City of Vaughan says it has shut down outdoor skating rinks, toboggan hills and dog parks “effective immediately” in attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Ontario government implemented a stay-at-home order which came into effect Thursday and declared a second state of emergency amid a continuing increase in COVID-19 cases in the province.

Read more: Ontario reports 100 new coronavirus deaths, some unaccounted for during data cleanup

The City said the decision was made “as part of [a] disciplined, responsible and measured approach to COVID-19,” in a press release Friday.

“We felt particularly in the areas of outdoor rinks, crowds were large and that would increase the spread of COVID-19,” Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua told Global News on Friday.

“… We’re perhaps bearing on the side of caution but I prefer that, because there’s a pattern here with COVID-19. that in fact the numbers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have always been higher than previously predicted.

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“So whenever we have the tools at our disposal to reduce the transmission, we act on it because I think it’s the responsible thing to do,” Bevilacqua continued.

The mayor added that he is aware of the concern for mental health and said he wants to make sure people are aware that parks and trails are still open for residents to enjoy the fresh air.

“These are not ordinary times, these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Day 1 of Ontario government’s stay-at-home order' Coronavirus: Day 1 of Ontario government’s stay-at-home order
Coronavirus: Day 1 of Ontario government’s stay-at-home order – Jan 14, 2021

“I think it’s something that we have to do, unfortunately during this pandemic,” Vaughan resident Taylor Starr told Global News Friday. “But again, as a person who goes outside frequently, I think it’s a little ridiculous.

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“I am indifferent. I will comply and I will just do what we have to do to stop the spread of this virus. It’s horrible.”

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Heinz Lahmann told Global News he “expected this,” however, he said he finds the restrictions put in place by both local and provincial government’s confusing.

“I believe there’s a serious issue going on with this virus,” said the 73-year-old. “But I’m a single guy. My dog is my best friend and we keep our distance. Mostly I respect what the government says but … I’m concerned about everything being shut down.

“The confusing part is I try to go once a week shopping … there’s still a lot of people and when they go on their phone, they take their masks off. But when you toboggan, you’re not really on the phone. It’s a really confusing issue …,” Lahmann explained, adding how he feels parks are a safe space to be able to properly distance.

Read more: Police can’t randomly stop people under coronavirus stay-at-home order, Ontario government says

The closures are taking place at the following city centres and parks:

  • The skating rinks at Chancellor Community Centre,
  • Dufferin Clark Community Centre,
  • Father E. Bulfon Community Centre,
  • Garnet A. Williams Community Centre
  • Vellore Village Community Centre;
  • the toboggan hill at North Maple Regional Park;
  • the dog park at 299 Racco Parkway.

The press release said open trails will remain available for use, but reminded residents to continue to adhere to public health guidelines and safety measures.

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The City also said enforcement and education efforts will be increased across Vaughan.

With files from Sean O’Shea