These $880 fines seem to be getting more and more common. Tickets continue to be issued across the City of Toronto for ignoring health advice or failing to social distance. Toronto trial lawyer Dylan Finlay is ready to fight it, though, as he was handed a Toronto social distancing fine for using a chin-up bar in Centennial Park.

After using workout equipment during his solo run at Centennial Park on Tuesday, April 14, Finlay says he was handed an $880 ticket.

The lawyer subsequently wrote an op-ed in the National Post published on Wednesday in which he describes his account of what happened as he left his house for an afternoon jog.

He says he stopped at a chin-up bar at the park. Minutes later, a bylaw officer approached him and gave him a ticket. 

Finlay alleges that the bylaw officer made it clear that he was not being ticketed for simply being in the park, but still handed him an $880 ticket.

"There was no signage on the chin-up bar saying that it was a 'recreational amenity,' or that it was off-limits to the public, despite signage on nearby playgrounds clearly marking them as being closed," said Finlay in the op-ed.

According to CTV, when Finlay fought back by insisting there was no sign indicating the chin-up bar was not allowed to be used. He alleges the officer simply answered: “Well, it is (off-limits).”

Finlay added, per CTV, that there were signs and tape on the playground and swing set area, but not on the chin-up bar.

Exactly three weeks ago now, on March 25, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced all facilities in city-owned parks and public spaces would be closed in line with health advice.

In that announcement, Tory specified that included all "outdoor fitness equipment" is now closed to the public. That would, at face value, seem to include small equipment like chin-up bars.

In a statement given to Narcity by email, a spokesperson for the Cty of Toronto clarified: "At this time, the park is not meant to be a destination like it used to be.*

"Individuals in parks can be fined if they are in breach of either the Provincial Emergency Orders under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act for either using an outdoor amenity (as set out in the Emergency Orders issued by the Province) or participating in a public or social gathering of more than five people who are not part of the same single household."

It continued: "The courts will ultimately have to decide on a case by case basis whether or not the facts in a particular case gave rise to a violation. If someone feels that they were wrongly ticketed, they do have the option of challenging it in court."

And Finlay says he's considering doing just that.

"You can be sure I will take this to trial unless this is withdrawn. What a complete waste of public resources that could be better spent in the healthcare system. It's a disgrace," he wrote in a tweet.

"I have been socially distancing as requested since Day 1. People using parks are not the enemy," Finlay followed in another.

Finlay is far from the only Ontarian being affected by $880 social dispatching fines, though.

One Oakville family received the same ticket because they were caught rollerblading in a parking lot of a closed community centre.

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, one man was hit with the same penalty while he walked his dog alone in a park.

And GTA police are still having to break up multiple groupings at parks like a recent incident which saw a large group of youths playing cricket in Brampton.

Earlier On Wednesday, Ontario had announced a new record jump in overnight deaths due to COVID-19. Staff warn harsher public restrictions could be coming if residents continue to fail to get the message.

*This article has been updated.

Start the Conversation
Account Settings
Notifications
Favourites
Log Out