City of Toronto continuing to receive troubling reports of gatherings in parks, dumping at clothing drop boxes

News Release

April 7, 2020

City of Toronto continuing to receive troubling reports of gatherings in parks, dumping at clothing drop boxes

Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Fire Chief and Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg, today, provided an update on the City’s continuing response to COVID-19.

Toronto Public Health is reporting there are now 1449 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, an increase of 148 cases from yesterday. Of the cases, 1218 cases are confirmed and 231 are probable, 82 cases have recovered, 142 are in hospital with 63 in ICU. In Toronto, there have been 42 deaths to-date. This data was extracted from the Integrated Public Health Information System at 12:30 p.m. The numbers may differ from other sources as data are extracted at different times.

Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) continues to work with Toronto Police Service, Toronto Public Health, and Parks, Forestry & Recreation to enforce the various orders and closures necessitated by the continuing spread of COVID-19. Yesterday, the City received 55 complaints related to non-essential businesses remaining open in contravention of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Since March 24, MLS has issued notices to 34 non-essential businesses.

The City also received 385 complaints yesterday alone about people using closed park amenities or not practising physical distancing in parks. MLS spoke to 848 people regarding the closure of park amenities and distancing and issued 12 tickets – the highest number of tickets issued by MLS in a single day since the start of the pandemic. Enforcement continues to focus on locations with the most activity. Yesterday, officers intervened to respond to a large gathering in the off-leash are of Windfields Park, a ball hockey game in the Sorauren Park Town Square, soccer and basketball games at Regent Park Athletic Grounds, and a 40-person gathering at the Stan Wadlow Park skateboard park.

These continuing reports of large gatherings are concerning, especially as we approach faith-based holidays normally centred around community celebrations. The City of Toronto, under the advice of Dr. de Villa, urges everyone to follow provincial orders limiting gatherings and public health recommendations to remain at home, leaving only for essential reasons.

Another emerging concern is the accumulation of donated goods, as well as garbage, surrounding full clothing drop boxes. These boxes play an important role in the city – they help reduce waste and raise money for worthwhile charities. Right now, in response to COVID-19, many charities are not accepting donations or emptying boxes. Mayor Tory announced today that, to address concerns of overflowing boxes and litter surrounding boxes, City Solid Waste Management Services workers will be collecting items left around bins and clearing the areas. The City urges all residents who want to make a donation to confirm with charities whether or not they are currently accepting donations. Illegal dumping of garbage by donation bins is not permitted and concerned residents can call 311 to report this.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice, and information about City services and social supports. Check https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.