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A cyclist make their way along the Credit River in Erindale Park, which is closed to cars, in Mississauga, Ont. on Thursday May 21, 2020. Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia
Paul Vrbik and his wife Amelia crossing the Credit River in Erindale Park, which is closed to cars, in Mississauga, Ont. on Thursday May 21, 2020.
The Credit River glistens in the sun as the water rushes over the rocks inside Erindale Park.
The 222-hectare park has been stylistically groomed, the playground is ready for another season of tiny climbers and the picnic tables are ready for family cookouts.
There is just one thing missing!
If you were making a day-after-annihilation type movie, you can start the first scene with this massive park appearing abandoned.
On a normal May 21st with temperatures hovering around 20 C all day under beautiful blue skies, you would not be able to get a parking spot in this Mississauga treasure.
But this year the parking lot is empty — except of course for the one car behind a temporary wall with a security guard hired to keep motorists out.
After 70 days of spring lockdown, it borders on cruel.
If you want to go golfing, go for ice cream, groceries or dollar store, no problem.
But not Mississauga’s Parks.
“Yesterday, council decided to hold off reopening any of the park amenities listed by the province under Phase 1 until (Peel Medical Officer of Health) Dr. Lawrence Loh could present his best advice to council,” read a statement from Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s office.
“Nearly one-quarter of all new cases in the province last week were reported in Peel. Right now, council doesn’t believe the numbers support a broader reopening.”
“Dr. Loh will layout his advice for a made in Mississauga phased approach to Stage 1 at Council on Wednesday, May 27,” said the mayor’s office. “After this presentation, Council will determine next-steps, including dates for re-opening. They will be flexible and nimble.”
Rigid and ultra-cautious. Yes!
Flexible and nimble? Not even close.
I have yet to hear of anybody contracting the coronavirus walking in a park, and just can’t understand why you wouldn’t utilize outdoor assets while trying to beat COVID-19.
There are many ways they could proceed — including employing social distancing measures more sensible than padlocking parks that boost resident morale while providing fresh air to go for walks, bikes, rollerblades, kite flying or fishing.
Instead, other than just a few people who seem to know they can walk by the security guard without being stopped, it almost has become a wilderness park.
“It’s just stupid,” said Dr. Paul Vrbik, at university professor who walked into the park with his wife Amelia who is eight-months pregnant.
“There are no statistics that back up any reason to shut down this park.”
But another couple named Matt and Isabella disagreed, saying “better safe than sorry.”
Compromise is needed.
Take safety precautions, but don’t overdo it.
Open the darn parks, Mayor Crombie.
Instead of paying a security guard to keep people out, why not let 100 families in at a time for a two hour stay and encourage them to social distance?
Remember, many consider Mississauga’s famous parks to be their cottage, as well as their front and back yard.
Not everybody is rich, but here you don’t have to be because you can cook some hotdogs or fresh trout or salmon caught right from the river.
Not this year. The park is effectively closed.
True, you can just walk into the park, but that privilege is pretty much limited to those who live nearby.
Anybody who wants to drive here has to park on a residential street and risk their lives crossing Dundas St. W. at Mississauga Rd.
Few are doing that, as I learned with photographer Ernest Doroszuk who walked through the park with me on Thursday.
This gem has become a ghost park.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020