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WARMINGTON: Maybe park users should bring tents and porta-potties

Who knew that all cooped-up Torontonians picnicking in Trinity Bellwoods Park Saturday had to do was pitch a tent?

And build an outhouse.

“I saw a crowd scene that was completely out of control relative to what we have been saying people should do,” Mayor John Tory complained to media, adding he saw people “sitting in big groups really close together.”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, called it “disappointing … selfish and dangerous behaviour.”

Even Premier Doug Ford piled on, saying he was “disappointed to say the least” with those who converged on the Queen St. park on Saturday.

What Tory, de Villa, Toronto Police and city bylaw inspectors didn’t seem to see was the illegal homeless campground in the park’s valley just metres from where the gathering took place.

There’s no disappointment, name-calling or put-downs for those who have created their own rent-free semi-permanent campsites in the park — some have gardens, candles, cooking stoves, a BBQ and lots of liquor bottles.

“We are allowed to be here because of COVID-19. This is safer than being in a shelter,” said one of the residents who was also irked that regular Torontonians dared to come to the park Saturday.

While Toronto spokesman Brad Ross said it is not OK to camp in the park, no one is doing anything about the half dozen campsites in the off-leash dog area.

“The bylaw officers have been leaving us alone,” said one of the campers.

Interesting. The big shots are not leaving picnickers alone.

There are so many double standards at play as leaders apply one set of rules for themselves and another for the rest of us. The tough talk and fines are reserved for the regular people — most of whom did nothing wrong and did try to social distance.

There were almost as many people in Trinity Bellwoods the week before but it didn’t catch on the same way.

Another truth is this park, and all city parks, still have their bathrooms locked up which creates its own health issues. There’s no way people should be urinating or defecating in the park or nearby but when nature calls, sometimes things can go south fast.

With the businesses not allowing public use of facilities right now, this can quickly become a crisis for somebody not near their home.

Now the campers in the park don’t run into that because they just make their own makeshift outdoor waste facilities.

One tent has a make-shift latrine under a tarp, complete with a blue-box for a toilet.

Another option is a forced-open door to a wooden storage shed in the park and that has become a communal outhouse.

The stench is not pleasant and it doesn’t seem like a healthy way to dispose of human waste.

“My dog came back from running around the park with human feces all over his mouth,” said one guy, who was pretty angry.

It was also worth noting that while municipal officials were so concerned about the unsanitary situation created by people relieving themselves Saturday, mounds of horse manure from the Toronto Police mounted unit remains in Trinity Bellwoods.

Instead of belittling Torontians who didn’t mean to cause problems, the mayor and his friends should next time count the number of people who come into the park to ensure it doesn’t become overcrowded. The city should remove the dirty homeless encampments, clear out their smelly outdoor toilets and open the actual bathrooms which can be frequently cleaned

Or perhaps regular park-goers can just bring their tents and porta-potties like the homeless are allowed to do.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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