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LETTER: Park closures take away opportunity to reduce stress

'This policy goes contrary to everything mental health professionals recommend,' reader says
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GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from reader Brigitte Lafferty, regarding the recent closure of parks due to COVID-19:

I noticed that the entrances to local parks have been taped/barricaded off.

In these days of increasing stress city people need to get away and connect with nature to de-stress. What better place to do that than in a park by the river?

This policy goes contrary to everything mental health professionals recommend. The cost of treating the mounting anxiety in people should be factored into this decision. One can physically distance oneself much more easily in a park than at the LCBO or at the beer store!!

People who have to self isolate in their homes, who face abusive situations, are at increased risk when they have nowhere to go for a bit of respite. With the lack of shelter space, even a park is more therapeutic than nothing.

What about the homeless? Does this mean fines or jail for them if they lie on a bench, or tent in a park? Where are they to go?

This new rule is all right for those with big yards and/or gardens to wander about in, but the rest of the population is penalized and left to suffer for lack of fresh air and connection with nature.

Do not isolate us from what may in fact be mentally and physically uplifting in these dark times of uncertainty.

If people are still to be allowed to walk in the parks, but not to drive in and park, then that policy still needs serious consideration as those of us with mobility issues, who, for our own mental health need to be able to breathe the air and soak in the sun, can park close by and enjoy the open space while distancing from others. Not everyone can walk from the parking lots that are farther away, to get into the park; there should be a way to allow the physically challenged to access the parking lots or else the policy would be discriminatory. I know that requires monitoring, but leaving the parking lots accessible would solve that problem.

From what I've seen, people who go to the parks do physically isolate.

Brigitte Lafferty