You can go for a walk but it won't be in a park - and forget the idea of getting a marriage license either

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 20, 2020



The City has put out an update on what it expects of its citizens.

The parks are closed and are going to remain closed.
City staff are focused on delivering essential services.

With the arrival of warmer weather, residents will start to see City of Burlington staff begin spring maintenance work in City parks and roads:

street sweeper

Expect to see equipment like this on the streets

• Street sweeping has begun on arterial roads and crosswalks with residential roads scheduled to begin mid-May
• Park and roadside litter clean up where needed prior to grass cutting
• Grass cutting will begin but will not include the usual trimming around trees and other objects
• Repair work for grass that has been damaged by sidewalk snow plows will begin the week of April 27with a contractor visiting the sites to fill areas with soil and grass seed

Pic 1 Spencer Smith Park

City wants to keep pedestrian traffic to a minimum.

Staff are only doing essential work to maintain City parks, facilities and assets until further notice. Wood chips at the Operations Centre on Harvester Road are not available for pick up during the pandemic and community gardens will remain closed as they have been deemed non-essential by the Provincial government. The City has delayed Community Garden openings until further notice.

To help keep everyone safe during the provincial emergency order, Spencer Smith Park is only available for walk-in traffic. The parking lots are closed and only walking is permitted in Spencer Smith Park, including the Promenade and the Brant Street Pier.

Visitors must keep a two-metre distance from other walkers. No other activities are permitted until further notice: no running, no rollerblading and no biking through Spencer Smith Park. This is to reduce the volume of people in Spencer Smith Park and to help walkers maintain physical distancing.

Physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most important steps everyone needs to take. The COVID-19 virus doesn’t move on its own; it needs people to move it.

Remember to:

• Keep two metres away from others – about the length of a hockey stick
• Move to the right on pathways to make room for others to pass safely
• Carry out your garbage whenever possible

Respect the caution tape and keep off playgrounds, sports fields, skateboard areas, tennis and basketball courts. The City has signage and barricades in the entrances of parking lots to block vehicles from parking. Vehicles left in parking lots will be towed at the owner’s expense.
Residents who see groups of five or more people gathering or individuals using outdoor recreational facilities can call the Halton Regional Police Service COVID hotline to file a report at 905-825-4722.

Local enforceable orders include:

• Closure of places of non-essential businesses
• Prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people
• Closure of public places and establishments
• Closure of all outdoor recreational amenities and parks

Burlington Transit
As an essential service, Burlington Transit continues to operate on a modified schedule for essential trips only. Essential trips include going to medical appointments and picking up medication or groceries. Extra buses will be added if needed to help protect drivers and allow passengers to practice physical distancing from other riders. Please use the back doors to enter and exit the bus, keep behind the marked area and follow the recommendations of public health professionals. For more information on Burlington Transit, visit

Parking - municipal cash grab

Not much work for the parking control people.

Parking enforcement is currently limited to safety-related issues such as fire routes, accessible parking, no parking/stopping areas and blocked areas, including parking lots at Spencer Smith Park, Lowville Park and all other City parks. Time limit restrictions have been relaxed to help those working from home or self-isolating. Parking permits and exemptions are not required until further notice. For more information on parking, visit

Service Burlington
Customer Service staff are available by phone and email for residents’ questions. Online forms can also be submitted via our website. Only in-person services, such as marriage licences, are not available during the pandemic.

Marriage couple at the altar

Not going to tie that know this month – maybe not in June either.

The City of Burlington is not issuing marriage licences while City Hall is closed. Residents needing a marriage licence can call Service Burlington two weeks before their intended marriage date and if City Hall has re-opened, will be accommodated as close to their wedding date as possible.

Municipalities issue marriage licenses on behalf of the Province of Ontario. Current legislation requires original signatures and documentation. City staff have asked the Province to review this legislation and make some interim amendments to allow for electronic signatures and documentation. Staff is also asking the Province to extend the licenses that were issued prior to the COVID-19 shutdown beyond the normal 90-day expiry dates.

In-Home Activities
The best thing residents can do to protect themselves and the community, is stay home. The City of Burlington and its partners have put together a list of activities people of any age can do while staying home at The list includes:

• Virtual fitness
• Free music
• Ebooks, emagazines and online resources from Burlington Public Library at
• Videos for recreation programming such as games, activities and crafts.

graphic covid 1Mayor Marianne Meed Ward cautions people. “As the weather gets warmer we know it will be harder to follow the provincial emergency orders, and the directives from Burlington City Hall. But we must continue to stay apart, and stay in our own neighbourhoods, so we can get through this sooner. Please resist the urge to congregate in groups, stay 6 ft. away from anyone you don’t live with and please stay in your own neighbourhood and local parks for your walks.

“Walk, don’t stop, and stay off playgrounds, benches and other park amenities. In particular, please do not come downtown to the waterfront where there has been some crowding in Spencer Smith Park and Beachway Park. We have taken extra measures to restrict the use of these areas.

“We know how difficult this has been so far for our residents, but it will only get more difficult the longer we have to keep these directives in effect. The longer we stay apart now, the sooner we can safely come together.”

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12 comments to You can go for a walk but it won’t be in a park – and forget the idea of getting a marriage license either

  • Trevor

    Not much social distancing on the promenade in Spencer Smith today. Lots of clusters of people.

  • Chris Gibbons

    the promise that the stricter the measures the sooner we will be free again seems vague…as soon as we stop the strict measures the numbers will just start going up again, unless we stop people at our borders for a very long time–no one in or out of a designated area. Perhaps that could be explained a little more?

  • Fred Hendriks

    This morning the City placed appropriate signs near the Brandt street entrance to Spencer Smith Park indicating that only pedestrians, including persons with walkers and wheelchairs are allowed to use the park. I give the City credit. Hopefully, the rules will be enforced with warnings and/or tickets.

  • Trevor Williams

    Agree with Fred Hendricks above, that there needs to be large, clear signage about the new rules for Spenser Smith. Equally important is the need to get cyclists off the sidewalks immediately. It’s simply impossible for them to physically distance on our narrow sidewalks. Tired and nervous of cyclists passing on sidewalks from behind, a foot or two away, with no warning. I’ve written twice to the mayor and councillor Kearns about this, with no result.

  • Michelle Harris

    Hey Lynn, I never saw Penny’s question yesterday, but I live in Ward 6. And this community does it every year and will take all precautions for safety. When the rest of Burlington wants to treat us equally as to services v tax dollars. We will change until then we take care of our OWN. We clean up our trash every year that flies from the bins via wind tunnels. We do not depend on the CITY to do our job. The rest of the wards could learn a thing or to from us, as you south of the QEW refer to as the “ghetto”. Turn you nose up, but our tax dollars go further in southern wards than ours. One day you will get it that the “6” matters. And today” we all matter”. If you and Penny are so concerned venter across the QEW you may be surprised. “We actually have a library”, which according to Goldring we didn’t deserve.”

    • Lynn Crosby

      Michelle: I didn’t mean any offence whatsoever to the north, your neighbourhood or any of your neighbours. I lived in the Orchard for many years, grew up in Tyandaga and my family lived for decades (and those alive still do) in Millcroft.

      My point was and is that there are mixed messages from the city between saying stay home and don’t go out for anything but food and prescriptions and then touting a community event – which I agree is an excellent event and kudos to all of you for doing it each year – which asks for people to leave home, drive to the dump, be in places looking for litter, etc. That’s all.

      I can also assure you that I, nor anyone I know, have not ever referred to anywhere in Burlington as the “ghetto”, and I have done my best to help people far beyond my own neighbourhood or ward and always will.

  • Tim C

    What about Racewalking? Is that allowed…

  • Fred Hendriks

    I walk through Spencer Smith Park twice daily among runners, skate boarders and cyclists.It is very difficult for cyclists to social distance when there are no dedicated bicycle paths.
    If indeed the Park is closed except for pedestrians ,there should be signage to indicate this.
    Social distancing will be very difficult as the weather improves. I have yet to see any Bylaw Officials in the Park. I am sure walkers and wheel chairs are included with pedestrians that can use the park.

  • “To help keep everyone safe during the provincial emergency order, Spencer Smith Park is only available for walk-in traffic. The parking lots are closed and only walking is permitted in Spencer Smith Park, including the Promenade and the Brant Street Pier.”

    Does this mean no wheelchairs or mobililty scooters? Or is it simply the City forgetting some of us don’t have usable legs for the length of the promenade but we would like to be able to participate in our only way of walking through Spencer Smith.. We would hate some over zealous by-law enforcement officer to take the city at its word and ticket someone paying homage to the sailor overlooking Spencer Smith on a mobility scooter drive by once a week rather than their normal daily visits to give thanks.

    • Perryb

      You imply deliberate ignorance on the part of the city. Please remember the situation is developing every day and reaction will not be perfect out of the gate. Hopefully bylaw officers are mature enough to recognize the difference between people needing mobility aids and idiots who defy constraints on their entitlements. And needed exceptions to the rules will be defined as they are pointed out.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Penny’s question yesterday about why there would be a ward 6 park community clean up scheduled with citizens signing up for shifts on multiple days and being encouraged to come with the kids, etc., and for some to volunteer to drive to the dump, comes to mind as I read this. One of the reasons they don’t want people driving unless essential is to avoid accidents which could result in social distancing being difficult when dealing with them, etc. If the city is not even doing outside work other than essential work, why are citizens coming to parks to do so? As Penny says it is a mixed message coming from the city, and I think it risks diluting the city’s message.