The City of Toronto is cracking down on residents who illegally use city ice rinks and illegally toboggan on city ski and snowboarding hills.
The Toronto Sun reported that the city’s Emergency Management Head, Matthew Pegg, Wednesday at a city press briefing cautioned that paid-duty police and municipal security officers would be increase patrols at the city’s 54 outdoor skating rinks and illegal tobogganing on city ski and snowboarding hills. Since Dec. 23, Toronto police have charged 19 people under the Trespass to Property Act for illegal acts of hockey on city-owned ice.
A list of sanctioned tobogganing locations can be found on the city’s website.
According to Bryan Passifiume at The Sun, "…the city opened outdoor ice rinks on Nov. 28 with strict rules, only reserved-space leisure skating is permitted from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. with a hard limit of 25 people at any one time. All other uses of outdoor ice, including shinny, is prohibited and those caught playing hockey will be charged, according to city officials."
"While we continue to do all we can to support safe outdoor activities, the use of closed ski and snowboard hills poses a significant risk of injury," Pegg said.
According to BlogTO, "Over the holidays, toboggan hills across the city were found packed full of people hanging out and chatting shoulder to shoulder, maskless."
BlogTO continued that "...ice rinks have been similarly busy... though apparently booking availability has been extremely limited."
Pegg noted that some people have even broken into ski and snowboard hills such as the North York Ski Centre, which have been closed provincewide as of Boxing Day, for "various activities including tobogganing."
The City is now ramping up the presence of police and other enforcement officers, to ensure that people stay off the hills and ice overnight.
Pegg said that 33 charges and 21 warnings were issued under the Reopening Ontario Act since Dec. 23, against a variety of businesses, including entertainment establishments, bars and restaurants, personal services providers, a badminton centre and retail stores.
Additionally, enforcement officers filed 13 charges for illegal gatherings on private property over Christmas.
Pegg added that a total of 1,795 charges were filed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Pegg continued that the city’s coordinated enforcement team—consisting of members of Toronto Police, city bylaw, licensing and standards and public health officers—issued 93 violation notices against large gatherings inside private homes, a rental property, a gaming house and a liquor establishment.
According to The Sun, Chief Medical Officer Eileen de Villa reported a record 1,069 new infections in the city on Wednesday and urged Toronto residents to prepare as the pandemic continues to spread. She said it’s "…reasonable we should brace for an extended period of potentially unsettling and discouraging numbers."
Almost 100,000 Ontarians have signed a petition for Premier Doug Ford to allow ski resorts to reopen during lockdown.