Confusion swirls as Brampton keeps outdoor facilities closed but retail businesses, including shops at Bramalea City Centre, begin opening
As restrictions across Ontario slowly begin to ease, there is a lot of confusion around what people can and can’t do, and what is and isn’t open.
In Brampton, the City is keeping parks and green spaces off limits (with exceptions) in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. At the other end of the spectrum, shops inside the Bramalea City Centre are starting to open for business.
Repeatedly, City officials have said Brampton is following the province’s guidelines to ensure a safe reopening process. This means they have given the go ahead for businesses with street entrances to allow customers inside.
Shops inside the Bramalea City Centre are starting to reopen while the City of Brampton continues to keep local parks closed to limit the spred of COVID-19.
For Daniel Connell, owner of Underworld Shop and Design, a game store in the heart of downtown, this has been a welcome approach.
“Our mayor is really adamant we need to play on the very cautious side,” he said.
Since getting the green light to open, Connell has implemented three rules for his business to keep both employees and customers safe. Shoppers are asked to let an employee know if they want to pull an item from the shelf. Also, any items that shoppers touch that they don’t wish to purchase are given to an employee to be wiped down before being put back on the shelf.
The small business owner is also ensuring that only one to two people, or one family, are allowed in the shop at the same time.
But there is some confusion around the opening of retail stores within the city.
Shops in the Bramalea City Centre (BCC) mall have been allowed to open, including: August 8 for take-out and delivery, Hudson’s Bay, Best Buy, Money Mart, Lenzsmith, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH and Urban Behaviour.
They are all being accessed through street entrances, but many essential services have been open inside the mall, such as, Dollarama, Shoppers Drug Mart, Jump + Apple Premium Reseller, RBC Royal Bank, and Gateway Newstands.
Several shops inside the Bramalea City Centre are now open, despite not having entrances from the street, raising questions around provincial/municipal rules which have kept malls closed for weeks.
The essential services are more or less located within the mall and do not have street entrances. General manager of BCC, Andrew Butler noted that there are only two entry points inside the mall on the lower level to accommodate those essential services inside.
“You have to pass a security check point so that you know the store that you want to visit is open; those are really the only precautions we have in place in terms of access and visiting the stores,” he said.
Other malls that have been closed down across the province may have different property owners who decided to close the malls completely regardless of the essential services inside.
The Pointer put questions to the City, and staff said specific conditions and requirements for malls are being looked into.
In the stage one framework of the province’s reopening plan it states that retail located outside of shopping malls that have separate street-front entrances can open with restrictions. Shopping malls have been closed for weeks.
City facilities remain closed at this time; this includes libraries, recreational facilities and city parks.
While residents are encouraged to get fresh air and sunshine in these hot months, the City is advising they continue to keep their distance. Playgrounds, leash-free dog parks, picnic shelters and outdoor fitness equipment are off limits.
Trails are open and pathways around closed parks are to be accessed by walk-through, but not to stop in these areas. So, Brampton residents cannot picnic, barbeque, fish or play in any city parks. The use of parking lots and basketball courts and sports fields is also not safe.
People who do not follow the rules of physical distancing or closures could receive a minimum $800 fine by a City bylaw officer.
However, at Heart Lake Conservation Park people are allowed to do several activities such as walking, bird watching, picnicking on a blanket and fishing with a licence.
Richard Ubbens, director of parks and culture for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) says the agency continues to work closely with all municipalities and regional governments surrounding their conservation areas.
Pools, summer camps and Tree Top Trekking are all not within the province’s guidelines to open and will stay closed until further notice at the conservation area.
At a press conference held Friday, Premier Doug Ford said he is now looking into the idea of allowing a more tailored approach for stage two of the province’s reopening plan.
“I’m now comfortable with asking our officials to look at a regional approach for a staged reopening, this will be one option that we will consider as we move into stage two,” he said.
This he said is due to the increased testing being done by regions across the province and more details on which areas are still seeing infection rates that make it too dangerous to reopen everything that is allowed under the province’s guidelines.
Currently, Brampton has 2,496 confirmed and probable cases, with a little over half of them now recovered. The city has had 74 COVID-19 deaths, 38 of those who passed away were residents in a long-term care or retirement home. The latest data from the Region shows 136 residents in long-term care or retirement homes that have the virus.
Email: [email protected]
COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.
Submit a correction about this story