Full park closures possible if by-laws not respected: Watson
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he's not closing the door to the possibility of shutting down all City-owned parks, even to simply walking through, if by-laws are not respected.
Over the weekend, Ottawa By-law handed out fines to residents for gathering in groups greater than five or using park equipment.
In all 43 tickets were handed out to residents and businesses.
The City of Ottawa allows residents to walk through parks, but play equipment and other facilities are deemed off-limits.
Speaking with CTV Morning Live's Leslie Roberts on Tuesday, Watson said the City wants to offer some leniency, but he's not opposed to shutting the parks down completely if people continue to break the rules.
"I don't think we're there yet," Watson said, "but, obviously, if it continues and the message doesn't get through, that has to be considered."
Watson said the City doesn't want to close parks completely.
"The Province has said we have to close the parks and we respect their decision, we think it's the right decision, but we're trying to be a little more lenient by saying if you want to walk or jog or cycle through the park, do that, just don't stop and gab with the neighbours or play on the equipment or start a pick-up soccer game."
Watson described a tweet he had seen saying two children playing in a park quickly grew to six.
"You see some kids in a park, other kids will go and play there," he said, "It's not picking on kids, it's trying to protect those kids and their families from contracting COVID-19 and bringing it into their home."
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, told CTV Morning Live there is a risk to gathering with people right now.
"You should not be gathering with people, even outside," she said. "It does mean you shouldn't sit on a park bench. That’s a place that can be contaminated. It's only meant for people to go about their business to cut through a park. The message needs to be clear to everyone and we do need to take action and enforce where people are willingly not following that protective practice."
The fine for failing to comply with the Ontario Emergency and Civil Protection Act is $750. A victim surcharge brings the fine to $880.