Plan to use tall fences to keep people away from Scarborough Bluffs has been scrapped

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What goes up must come down, even if it has just gone up and had not been completed.

Without the vigorous objections of local residents, 500 meters of high fencing has already been erected along the cliffs of Scarborough to prevent people from crossing the edge and needing to be rescued.

Toronto emergency responders are often called upon to rescue people who climb over the edge of the towering cliffs of Lake Ontario and cannot return to the top, or who get stuck on their way up from the bottom.

It’s a delicate and delicate procedure, requiring several staff members putting themselves in danger to retrieve people or even dogs that embark on a “mishap,” as the Toronto Fire Department calls it. And then there is the cost to taxpayers.

Each year since 2015, the Toronto fire has rescued 15-20 people, mostly during the warmer months. In June 2020 alone, it transported eight people stranded along the cliffs.

A note from the fire department stated that “our teams spend many hours training in this difficult rescue technique. The area presents many risks, falling or being buried by a sand slide (or) bodily injury is a probability for people who venture too close to the cliffs.

It is therefore not surprising that the city has been looking for ways to deter adventurers for the past two years, and that fencing appears to be the most effective deterrent.

I received a note from Ron Brown with “another lakeside error” in the subject line, expressing dismay at dozens of recently installed two-meter-high fence posts in Scarborough Heights Park, on Fishleigh Drive, just east of Rosetta McClain Gardens.

“I grew up on the Bluffs in the 50s and 60s. We would climb and descend these cliffs, guitars and pop in hand without a misstep; no fences, no roads, just trails, ”Brown said.

“Unfortunately, over the years, a few mad souls have found themselves trapped on these steep slopes. So how is our city doing about it? By installing a chain link prison fence along the edge of the cliff, even where there is no danger.

“The cliffs are one of our truly breathtaking natural features, but here we are going to ruin it. There are surely better ways.

I went to the park a little over a week ago and found a long row of fence posts that stretched out for hundreds of yards. The fence had not yet been installed, but it was the only remaining step to seal the cliffs.

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STATUS: I asked the city about plans to erect fences and got a surprising response indicating that the initiative had been abandoned: “In early June the city planned to install around 500 meters of chain link fencing. lozenges in two sections of Scarborough Heights Park. . This followed the review of security measures and mitigation options that were submitted to the committee last year. Mitigation options identified include signage, public education, and fence improvements / adjustments. This particular location has been identified as needing barriers. Following a community meeting on June 15 and feedback from residents of Ward 20, the City decided not to have a chain link fence along the cliffs of Scarborough Heights Park. Instead, staff will install a smaller wire fence and post and signage to help mitigate emergency rescues. The installation of a new fence is expected to begin in mid-July. The fence posts will be removed next week. Parks staff will continue to monitor the parks that line the cliffs and will work closely with Toronto Fire and Police, Municipal Licenses and Standards, and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority on strategies to to prevent visitors from having a mishap while visiting the cliffs.

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