A walk to remember for seniors

“This is one of those situations where it’s not yet clear if the bylaw applies or if it was just an overzealous application of that bylaw,” she said. “We’re going to treat it as an aberration for now – I mean, surely no one stays up at night thinking up ways to harass seniors in a park, right?”

But despite the hoopla, complaints to both Miller and Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Mark Grimes have yet to see any resolution, Guthrie said.

Both Miller and Grimes have issued public statements in the last week, and while both were apologetic, neither have come to any conclusions about how best to remedy the situation.

“There are excellent reasons for requiring some users of parks to purchase a permit, particularly when the organizers are a commercial or for-profit entity,” Miller wrote, adding that he has instructed parks staff to review the matter.

“But discretion and flexibility must be exercised in the application of this policy because of the variety of users of our parks and this sounds like one such case where some flexibility could have been shown.”

For his part, Grimes has released an open letter to local residents, assuring them that all residents and visitors are welcome in parks and green spaces.

Echoing the sentiments of Miller, Grimes continued to urge “discretion and flexibility” in the application of the City’s permit policy in dealing with park users, regardless of age or financial situation.

“Although we recognize that enforcement officers are in a somewhat difficult position in terms of their responsibilities to enforce the bylaws, these duties have to be carried out sensitively, in a way that does not harass participants,” he said, noting that an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Grimes also extended an invitation to Guthrie and her fellow senior walkers to meet with park staff to assist with the process of obtaining or waiving the necessary permits that may be required – an invitation Guthrie scoffed at.

“I’m just very tired now – it’s been a long week of telling our story over and over and still it’s not resolved,” she said, noting that the group is still in the dark about whether or not they’ll be required a permit for future ventures. “(Grimes) offered to talk to our group about our options, but instead we invited him to join our exercise group and see what we’re all about…We don’t want this (bylaw officer) fired, just for him and the city to wake up and realize what’s acceptable behaviour.”

© Inside Toronto

Keywords: seniors