The behaviour we’ve seen at Woodbine Beach over the past few weekends has been unacceptable. It’s also unprecedented, compared to any other summer months in the past. We knew that this summer would be busy as a result of the pandemic and folks having been isolated, so we put in a proactive plan in place this Winter:
- Additional bylaw and police officers out Friday to Sunday from 10pm to 2am.
- Solid waste crews out at 5am and 5pm Friday to Monday to empty the bins
- Additional staff to pick up litter across the beach and parks.
- Clearing bins that are full has been happening so material doesn’t blow around overnight
- More than doubling the number of bins, , there are now over 200 bins in the beaches area
- We’ve also hired extra staff to help with this, and a lot more
Updating the Plan
After the unprecedented scenes following TikTok parties and massive crowds on the Victoria Day long weekend, we’ve been adapting the plan. My priority, and the City’s, is keeping the beach open and accessible for the majority of people who want to enjoy it reasonably and respectfully every day. But we also need to make sure visitors are treating our Beach and the surrounding communities, with the respect they deserve.
It’s important to keep in mind that there were estimated 5,000 – 10,000 people on the beach over the busy weekends in late May and early June. Crowds of these size demand a different response from Police, focusing more on public safety than individual enforcement of litter or noise. We’ve seen tickets and fines handed out from Police and By-Law, but deterrence alone will not solve this issue.
At the June City Council meeting, I brought a motion forward with Mayor Tory to address some of the issues we continue to see on weekends:
- Ensuring even further enforcement resources, the maximum extent possible, are sent to Woodbine and the eastern beaches.
- Increasing the number of garbage and litter crews by adding another shift, so there are now three shifts being put in place – 5am, in the afternoon and in the evening.
- Asking for a towing pilot to be put in place for the streets in and around Queen Street, from Kingston Road all the way to Vic Park.
The work to manage this situation continues, we’re also trying to get the message out with signage and media campaigns warning people that they have to respect our beaches. Enforcement is a big part of the plan but Police and bylaw officers can’t be everywhere at once so a strong message is also an important part of the solution.
Getting the word out
Like last year, there will be prominent signage including large mobile signs in parking lots noting the enhanced restrictions (like litter, fireworks and bonfires), as well as at the beach access points. There will also be dedicated signage about physical distancing and the relevant Provincial regulations at the time. The City’s social media and Strategic Communications teams will also be making sure the word gets out online.
I want to thank the Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Solid Waste Management, Strategic Communication and Municipal Licensing and Standards departments as well as Toronto Police 55 Division for their support in developing and implementing this plan and adapting it as needed.
We’re going to need your input and support as a community too. We can all enjoy the beach safely. Now more than ever, we should be making the most of this beautiful resource for our physical and mental health. I hope you’ll help the City in working together to make the best of Summer 2021 at the Beach.