Local councillor wants to step up enforcement of stay-at-home order in city parks
Published Sunday, April 11, 2021 4:57PM EDT
OTTAWA -- The unseasonably warm temperatures over the weekend had many outdoors and it brought crowds to the parks, including at Ottawa's Mooney's Bay.
But reports of large crowds gathering on the first weekend of Ontario's 28-day stay-at-home order have some residents concerned.
Nyota Zawadi, who lives near Mooney's Bay Park, brings her kids here about once a week to get some fresh air and to keep them active.
"Since COVID started, it's not busy as before," she observed on Sunday afternoon, wearing a mask. "As long as we follow the protocols, it's fine, and we social distance."
Under Ontario's stay-at-home order, residents are only allowed to leave home for essential reasons, such as going to work, child care or school, getting groceries or medicine, attending medical appointments, and getting outdoor exercise or walking pets within one's community.
Outdoor amenities such as parks, cycling tracks and golf courses remain open.
"Green spaces are open," said River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington. "We do want people to get outside but get outside responsibly."
Brockington drove by Mooney's Bay on Saturday afternoon, after hearing complaints from residents about large gatherings in the park.
"There were a lot of people here," he said.
Last summer, there was daily bylaw presence and enforcement, which Brockington said will continue this year; however, he wants that presence now.
"The challenge is, it still being early April, our staffing is not up and running yet," he said. "There still isn't a presence yet from the city or Ottawa bylaw for the park but we need it."
Just after 6 p.m. Saturday, there were reports of people arguing and fighting. Ottawa police say it resulted in a man being sent to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
For now, Brockington is reminding visitors to stay within their household, keep 2 metres apart and wear a mask if social distancing isn't possible.
It's a recommendation echoed by Zawadi.
"You have to follow rules," she said. "It's hard, but you have to."