Don’t fishermen risk tangling of their lines if they stand too closely together? Apparently Port Hope, Ontario's town council thinks otherwise.
At the beginning of September, the small town just over an hour's drive East of Toronto, made the executive decision to restrict public access along the Ganaraska River throughout Port Hope.
In a seemingly alarmist media release, Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson stated:
“Council authorized the temporary closure of all lands and parks, under ownership of the Municipality, that border the Ganaraska River, effective September 2, 2020 until October 15, 2020, in an effort to limit group gatherings during the annual salmon migration while the global pandemic is ongoing. This closure includes all green spaces and trails from Molson Street to Lake Ontario and prevents access to the River through municipal properties.”
The release goes on to say that the decision was made after “lengthy community consultation” – not as a result of science or evidence based decision-making. No, during a global pandemic, the town has decided to rely on public opinion. As of September 29, in a county with a population of 85,598 people, there were mere two (two!) active cases of COVID-19. Of course, I took to the riverside to see how people in and around the area felt about the closure.
A few were happy that the community was being kept safe, despite there being no data that supports the outdoor viral transmission theory, while one man blatantly disregards the roped off access while walking his dog.
More interestingly, one woman agrees that this provided justification for closure of the riverbed to prevent fishermen from engaging with the salmon migration, something locals complain about and criticize heavily every year.
Once again, it appears to be another case of seeking justification to restrict access based on local privilege and politics than actual health and safety.