Toronto Mayor John Tory is apologizing after facing criticism for making an appearance at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday.
Outrage began brewing on social media as photos of the mayor at the park circulated online over the weekend.
A post on Reddit showed the mayor speaking with park visitors with his mask pulled down over his chin at what appears to be a distance of less than two metres.
Another post on Imgur showed the mayor among a group of people, once again with his mask pulled down.
Tory as well as Councillor Brad Bradford visited a number of newly opened park amenities on Saturday, including the stretch of Lake Shore East that was closed to traffic for the ActiveTO initiative to allow people to walk and bike while maintain social distance.
So happy to see residents taking advantage of the City’s newly re-opened park amenities, while at the same time doing their part to practice physical distancing. This is one way we are trying to give our residents back a piece of their normal lives in a safe and responsible way. pic.twitter.com/Yik2M1UirS
— John Tory (@JohnTory) May 23, 2020
However, images from Trinity Bellwoods park showed massive crowds and the mayor’s presence at the park had many questioning his behaviour and the example he is setting for residents.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health called the behaviour of park visitors potentially “selfish and dangerous … that could set us back.”
The Mayor issues a statement on Sunday evening saying he wanted to apologize for his behaviour.
“I visited Trinity Bellwoods Park to try to determine why things were the way they were,” the statement reads.
“I fully intended to properly physically distance but it was very difficult to do. I wore a mask into the park but I failed to use it properly, another thing I’m disappointed about. These were mistakes that I made and as a leader in this city, I know that I must set a better example going forward.”
A spokesman from the mayor’s office tells CityNews Tory “gained valuable insights” into people’s reasoning for using the park when he visited.
As for the mayor’s incorrect usage of a face mask, Don Peat said we are all still getting used to wearing masks in public.
“The Mayor will make sure his mask is on properly when he is out in public in situations where public health and physical distancing guidelines recommend wearing one,” he said.
Meanwhile Toronto Police is stepped up social distancing enforcement at Trinity Bellwoods park on Sunday.
Chief Mark Saunders was also seen at the park speaking with concerned residents about the nearly 10,000 people that gathered there on Saturday.