GTA

City halts construction of fence in park near Scarborough Bluffs

City halts construction of fence in park near Scarborough Bluffs-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
A sign in Scarborough Heights Park warns visitors of the steep drop in the lower half of the park. Fence posts, evenly spaced out, have been left in the park. Coun. Gary Crawford says construction on a fence in the park has stopped. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)

The city has halted construction of a two-metre high fence in a park near the Scarborough Bluffs after an outcry from residents on Facebook, and a Toronto councillor says the city will hold a community meeting about the project soon.

Body found after vehicle fire near Scarborough Bluffs

The fence was designed to keep people from climbing on the cliffs. Fence posts, evenly spaced out, have been left in the park.

Coun. Gary Crawford, who represents Ward 20, Scarborough Southwest, said in a Facebook post on Friday that construction on the fence in Scarborough Heights Park, off Fishleigh Drive, has stopped and he will meet with city staff on Monday about the project.

“I have halted installation of the fence at Scarborough Heights Park. I am meeting with City staff on Monday and will be holding a community stakeholder meeting in the next days to provide information, the opportunity for discussion and options,” Crawford said in the post.

No reason was given for the stoppage, but a Facebook post by Crawford on Wednesday, in which the project was made public, drew a handful of angry responses from local residents who expressed concerns that the fence would negatively affect wildlife, decrease enjoyment of the park and fail to prevent people from climbing over. Residents also said the city did not consult the community about the fence.

At least one resident is urging the city to build a lookout platform or viewing deck instead.

Crawford has not returned request for comment from CBC Toronto. The city said in email on Saturday that it will be able to provide information about the fence on Monday.

The city had planned to build more than 500 metres of fencing in two sections of the park, where Crawford said the majority of the park had no fencing.

Fence in Scarborough Bluffs-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Coun. Gary Crawford published this photo on his Facebook account to show where the fence in Scarborough Heights Park would be installed. The white lines indicate where the fencing would be constructed. The city has halted the project after an outcry from residents on Facebook. (Facebook)

According to Crawford, the smaller western portion of the fence would have gone along the top of an embankment in the park from a community garden to the edge of the Bluffs, while the larger eastern portion would have provided security, “wrapping” the lower half of the park.

There is a steep drop at the edge of the park, and at some spots, there is a tangle of tree roots and foliage where the ground drops off.

‘Dangerous behaviour’ on Bluffs continues, councillor says

Initially, Crawford said the fence was to have been completed on Friday.

Scarborough Heights Park, located west of Bluffers Park, is one of 11 parks along 15 kilometres of the Bluffs, a geological feature that stretches along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. The park is south of Kingston Road and east of Birchmount Road.

Councillor Gary Crawford-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Coun. Gary Crawford, shown here near the edge of Lake Ontario, says: ‘I have halted installation of the fence at Scarborough Heights Park. I am meeting with City staff on Monday and will be holding a community stakeholder meeting in the next days to provide information, the opportunity for discussion and options.’ (Sue Goodspeed/CBC)

In his original post, Crawford had said the fencing was a safety measure.

“Every year, natural curiosity has led visitors to our Bluffs parks to want to explore the natural terrain, despite existing signage advising against,” he said.

“They are often unaware of the possible negative consequences. Despite enforcement and the issuance of hundreds of tickets, the dangerous behaviour continues, resulting in Emergency Services personnel having to take action and conduct rescue operations,” he continued.

“As well as being an extremely concerning safety issue, these repeated operations are expensive and put a strain on already stretched staff resources.”

On its website, the city says: “The Bluffs’ edge is unstable. Stay behind the fences and use your common sense. Do not approach the edge of the bluffs.”

Toronto police have said that people who ignore signs that warn them not to climb on the Bluffs actually endanger the firefighters who use ropes to rescue them and the firefighters who hold onto those ropes while the rescues are underway.

CBC

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