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Pandemic Moment: your guide to critically thinking about information

When two levels of government disagree

As I have been saying, we should pay close attention to authorities that cover our particular political geography.  In Toronto, this includes authorities operating at a global, federal, provincial, or municipal level.  We must also do our best to seek out current information.

On the issue of city park closures, reputable news agencies reported the following change. (March 30)

With respect to open park space, CTV News reported the following:

"Green spaces such as parks, trails and ravines will remain open “for walkthrough access,” according to the province. However, officials warn that individuals must maintain physical distance of at least two meters."

CP24 ran an identical message, reproduced here: "Green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that aren't otherwise closed will remain open for walkthrough access, as long as people maintain a distance of at least two metres from others."

The update/change appears to be that green spaces, that have not been closed, are now only open for walkthrough access.

This change was reported based on information derived from the provincial (Ontario) government, and its health information sources.

However, this reported change is at odds with the municipal (Toronto) government's position, and supported by their own health authorities.

The City of Toronto's information on this issue reports no change on this matter.

From their webpage, updated March 31st, it reads:

"Park and ravine green spaces remain accessible, but all amenities within City parks are closed. If you are visiting a park space, please practice physical distancing.

While in a park, residents must not use park amenities or congregate in groups. Dogs can be taken into park spaces on a leash. Please do not put yourself or loved ones or neighbours at risk of exposure."

As a follow-up, I telephoned Toronto Public Health, the local covid-19 authority, and posed the following question, "Can I take my two kids to a park and kick around a soccer ball?"

The TPH representative directed me to the webpage I quoted above and agreed that it is (at this time) lawful for me to take my kids to the park and kick around a soccer ball!

In the face of conflicting information, we should take the more cautious and prudent course, and endeavor to seek out more clarifying information.

As good private citizens we should also work to encourage government and health officials from different levels to cooperate, taking greater care to come to common measures on issues affecting the same political-geography.

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