What is reasonable in Burlington?

Here in my hometown of Burlington, ON, the scuttlebutt is all regarding the recent decision by the City of Burlington to greatly reduce drive by parades. It has been met with a high degree of controversy to say the least. These are not normal times we currently live in. So many of our regular outlets for social interaction are missing from our day to day lives. In the wake of such disruption it’s not surprising that people find imaginative ways to come together while keeping each other safe.

The city’s decision here though is confusing. Our mayor herself admitted to participating in one such parade. Admitting to how wonderful the experience was. The parades themselves are creatures of the pandemic. A creative way for people to share their humanity while maintaining social distancing protective measures. It’s near impossible to spread the disease while in your car with the windows up. No one is approaching the vehicles on the road. So I’m failing to see where the harm is being inflicted. If there are concerns over road traffic and safety, there are existing traffic by laws that can be enforced.

Disagreement persists on the legality of this order. It is based on a loose interpretation of the provincial order and no official by law has been debated and passed by the city council. Premier Doug Ford has disagreed with this interpretation of his governments legislation.

Legally speaking it is highly unclear if such an order is constitutional. I am upset with this knee jerk reaction to the situation. The parades were a sign of a community coming together to spread cheer and good will in a time where it is in short supply. Public safety can be ensured if traffic is a concern. The order sends a message that this safe measure is no longer acceptable in Burlington.

What is confusing is how staying in your car to drive by a young child’s birthday or a senior’s milestone is considered a hazard, and yet standing on a street corner with others to wave is acceptable.

Our city is a great place to live. It is made that way because of the indomitable community spirit that fosters the creative outputs of solidarity such as these drive by parades. Leadership needs to be shown to ensure we all get through this pandemic. The city unfortunately has taken a piecemeal approach to enforcement during this pandemic. Interpreting legislation to restrict safe behavior while, turning its back on more ambiguous ones.

The city and citizens need clear instructions and policy to conduct our behavior during COVID-19. It’s up to the city to provide it.

Update: This was posted to Mayor Meed Ward’s Facebook page. It appears that the new rules are on hold for the time being.

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