Tory floats idea of passing on rescue costs after two people pulled from Scarborough Bluffs
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 5:37AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2019 1:59PM EDT
Firefighters pulled two people to safety after they became trapped on the Scarborough Bluffs on Monday night.
Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell says that crews were first dispatched to Cathedral Bluffs Park at around 8:45 p.m. after receiving reports about two people who went 10 to 15 feet down the side of the cliff and then couldn’t get back to the top.
Powell says that the trapped individuals used a flashlight to alert firefighters to their location. At that point, he said that firefighters descended the cliff to verify that they were both OK before using ropes to pull them to safety.
The area where the rescue took place was near a portion of Cathedral Bluffs Park close to the cliff that is off limits to members of the public; however residents in the area tell CP24 that they regularly see people ignoring signs advising them to stay back.
Speaking with reporters at an unrelated press conference on Tuesday morning, Mayor John Tory conceded that it has become far too prevalent of a practice for people to climb down the bluffs in search of a better view but he said that he doesn’t know what else the city can do to discourage trespassing.
“We have certainly done our best to put up signs and there are fences, so people have to go out of their way to do this knowing that it happens weekend after weekend that people have to be rescued,” he said. “I think the only next step you could take would be to say you are going to send people a bill for emergency services but that is a precedent that could apply to a number of other areas and I just don’t know if that is the right way to go about this.”
Hundreds have been ticketed for trespassing at bluffs
Bylaw enforcement staff with the City of Toronto can issue a $205 ticket to anyone who enters an area in a public park that is off limits but did not do so on Monday night, a spokesperson for the city’s municipal licensing and standards division confirmed.
The spokesperson said that 491 tickets have been issued to residents for violating the bylaw since January 1, 2018, with a staggering 475 of those being handed out to people at the Scarborough Bluffs.
Tory did float the idea of a “steeper fine” on Tuesday morning but he said that whatever the penalty is, it may not be enough to discourage would be trespassers.
“Human behavior often defies logic and this case is another instance,” he says.
Significant use of resources, Pegg says
Neither of the individuals rescued on Monday night were hurt but Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said that there is a risk of “serious injury or death” whenever anyone ventures into the restricted area overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs.
Pegg said that incidents like the one on Monday are also concerning because of the large number of resources required for high-angle rescues.
“Any type of rescue that involves putting our people on ropes and either ascending or descending them on a rope requires a significant number of personnel to do safely and that is certainly what we saw yesterday,” he told CP24 on Tuesday afternoon.