Conservation Halton closes all parks: public not following social distance rules

News 100 redBy Staff

March 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The public has not paid enough attention to the requirement to maintain a social distance between people they come into contact with.

Conservation Halton made the decision to close all parks indefinitely as of March 22nd.

Mt Nemo - birch trees

Made for pleasant outdoor walks – people using the park on Saturday did not stay far enough apart. This social distance stuff is serious.

On March 13, we reduced staff in our parks and gatehouses, cancelled all programming and closed some of our parks, while leaving others open for people to engage in passive recreation. We also suspended our regular fees and encouraged visitors to pay what they can. The parks were still served by Park Rangers and other park operations staff with no direct contact with customers. They were monitoring conditions, parking, and visitor safety for adherence to social distancing related to COVID-19.

Our parks were extremely busy on Saturday March 21 with a spike in hiking visits from 12pm onward. Although many of our visitors have respected social distancing, our Rangers observed and reported concerns with crowding in some areas, parking lot capacity and illegal parking, and people entering areas that are marked as closed.

Mt Nemo entrance

Now closed o the public

Considering these challenges, all Conservation Halton parks will remain closed indefinitely. These include Kelso, Mountsberg, Crawford Lake, Rattlesnake Point, Hilton Falls and Robert Edmondson Conservation Areas. All sites will be monitored for illegal access and trespassers will be charged.

“These are extraordinary times and we are not in a position to use staff resources to manage non-compliance with park rules or control crowding proactively. Our collective response to COVID-19 has to be all or nothing when it comes to social distancing.” said Hassaan Basit, Chief Administrative Officer.

Mt Nemo waking trail

People were not staying far enough apart on Saturday – trail now closed.

“Unfortunately, while most people have been very responsible, some have demonstrated a complete disregard for the health advice we must all follow. This leaves us no choice but to close the parks indefinitely. We can not risk the safety of any member of our staff or the broader community.”

“For parents with children at home, Conservation Halton has prepared some online resources to support learning about nature without leaving your home. You can find them on our website at conservationhalton.ca/nature-home-learning-resources.”

Important related news story:

Why is social distance important?

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2 comments to Conservation Halton closes all parks: public not following social distance rules

  • Stephen White

    The inability of public servants to think outside the box and devise creative solutions to problems never ceases to amaze me. Conservation Halton is another sad case in point.

    As the pandemic continues, and experts suggest it will likely continue well past the summer, it will become increasingly important for citizens to have some kind of recreational outlet. Kids need exercise and fresh air, as do adults. Yes…they should practice social isolation…we all get it. But there is a practical element to this crisis that also needs to be respected. A bureaucrat imposes an edict and mandates obedience. A pragmatist seeks realistic options and sensible compromises that respect the problem but provide people with workable solutions.

    The solution is fairly simple. Open the parks, and people wishing to go there book two hour blocks of time either by calling in or booking online. Limit the number of attendees to a specified number. When they book they provide a credit card number. When they enter the park they register. If they fail to show up they are charged $100. If they fail to practice social isolation they are charged $500 and barred from entry for the rest of the year. If they show up, stay two hours, practice social isolation and behave themselves, they are charged nothing.

    If the people running Conseration Halton had taken Psychology 101 in university they would have heard about B.F. Skinner and his theory of operant conditioning. Obviously, they didn’t take Psychology. It sounds like they didn’t take Economics 101 or the Fundamentals of Busness either.

  • Phillip Wooster

    I can’t speak to Halton but yesterday on a beautiful spring break I was out birding in another park close to Halton. And yes, several people were not practising social distancing—and they all appeared to be family groupings which were distancing themselves from other family groupings. These groupings of family members–most with small children, are not likely to distance themselves at any time. Was there a transmission risk–doubtful that one was being spread beyond the family members.

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