Mississauga bylaw officers not expected to crack down on parks this long weekend

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Published May 19, 2021 at 8:54 pm

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It’s a busy time for enforcement staff at the City of Mississauga but the city has signalled that it does not intend to crack down on park visitors this coming Victoria Day long weekend in Mississauga.

At a May 19 press conference, Sam Rogers, Director of Enforcement with the city, told reporters that security staff, police and ‘park ambassadors’ (usually re-deployed parks staff) will be out at the waterfront and city parks this weekend.

However, he said that actual enforcement will be strictly complaint-based.

“We will not be conducting any type of proactive enforcement efforts,” Rogers explained.

“Education is the main effort and focus within our city parks and that is led by our Parks ambassadors. We have educated tens of thousands of residents who have been playing sports and outdoor activities. With (almost) no tickets or charges – the rare, rare exception is when it’s egregious and there’s no compliance.”

Councillors have begun expressing more concern about gatherings that defy the province’s current stay-at-home order, particularly in the wake of a recent anti-lockdown rally that attracted a few hundred people and a Day of Action rally organized by the Palestinian Canadian Community Centre that brought several thousand people to Celebration Square.

At a May 19 council meeting, Ward 1 Councillor Stephen Dasko asked for “resources to be queued up as much as they can” in anticipation of the May 2-4 weekend, citing the impact the holiday could have on traffic at local parks–particularly those along the waterfront.

But while Rogers was clear that the city won’t be proactively patrolling parks to disperse crowds, he did say that enforcement staff–with support from Peel Regional Police–will be on the lookout for private gatherings and other potentially unsafe events over the long weekend. 

At a council meeting, Rogers said the warm weather and the lingering lockdown (and in the case of the pro-Palestinian rally, turmoil in the Middle East) is taking its toll on residents and is getting “harder and harder to control people’s frustration.”

Mayor Bonnie Crombie and other councillors raised concerns about the optics of allowing large protests at a time when people could face fines for visiting a friend or family member’s home. 

“We are in the middle of a lockdown, yet 15,000 people can gather in Celebration Square,” said Crombie, who asked Rogers what the City or police can do at future mass gatherings.

“The Peel Police approach – like that of Toronto – is very much hands-off – just monitoring. You can’t go in heavy-handed,” Rogers answered at council, adding he thought police did a good job at the rally. “It is my understanding they will get names and will follow up with charges.”

Recently, the City announced that Peel police will be working with both Brampton and Mississauga enforcement officials to provide dedicated resources for a coordinated response to large, organized gatherings that present a direct threat to public health. According to a City of Mississauga spokesperson, the initiative is focused on responding to complaints about large gatherings.

The spokesperson said that bylaw officers and police will not be randomly stopping vehicles or conducting spot checks in parks, playgrounds, or on trails. 

At the council meeting, Rogers was also asked about residents who gather in backyards and “call it a protest” to escape potential fines but he quickly shot down the dubious legality of such action.

“I’d caution against anyone considering that.”

At the same time, the City is preparing its recreational amenities–such as golf courses–for May 22 in light of the province’s recent announcement that restrictions on a number of outdoor activities will be relaxed before the stay-at-home order lifts on June 2. 

This story has been updated from its original version to include new information about outdoor amenities

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