By: Mike Anderson
With the May long-weekend fast approaching, the Town of Georgina would normally be promoting its beaches and parks to day-trippers from the GTA.
But these are not normal times. And, day-trippers are decidedly not welcome.
The Town has placed a series of large mobile signs, 17 in total, at key entrance points, advertising that its public beaches, parks, playgrounds, and boat launches are closed due to COVID-19.
The underlying message is blunt: “Georgina is closed. Stay home!”
The Town is also hoping that its website and social media channels get the message across, as well as ads placed in local newspapers.
But, just in case that doesn’t work, it’s also running ads on several radio stations that reach GTA audiences.
“We want to ensure that everyone entering the Town is aware of current closures to avoid disappointment when arriving at their final destination,” Mayor Margaret Quirk said in an email to the Post.
“Not everyone is online or reads the newspaper, so we wanted to make sure this important messaging was clearly visible to both visitors and residents by using multiple communication methods. Keeping our residents and visitors safe is our priority, and we look forward to re-opening these popular areas when it is safe to do so.”
The Town is backing up its messaging with a big stick.
The Town’s bylaw officers and York Regional Police are authorized to enforce park closures and provincial orders.
Fines start at $125 for a bylaw infraction and $750 for a provincial offence. However, higher penalties could be assessed depending on the severity of the offence.
Since the Town closed its parks, beaches and trails, bylaw officers have interacted with more than 700 people in those areas, however, no charges were laid, according to a spokesperson from the Town.
But that might change, especially if these areas are inundated with long-weekend visitors seeking to escape the city.
Residents have been asked to report anyone violating the closures by calling the Municipal Law Enforcement Division at 905-476-4301, ext. 2279; for after hours and weekends, call ext. 2281.
“If your call goes to voicemail, leave a detailed message including the date, time and location of the violation, and an officer will investigate,” reads the Town’s website.
While there were a large number of calls when closures were initially announced, calls have dropped off, in part because the Town says its education campaign is working.
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