The story of a man and woman who were said to be filming children in a public park without authorization last week were paid to be there, says a representative for the City of Toronto — and they weren’t there for the kids.
“A consultant hired by the City is undertaking a city-wide state of good repair audit of parkland trails and pathways,” says Jane Arbour, who works in PR and Issues Management for Toronto’s Department of Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
“We’ve confirmed that they were in Spenvalley Park last week,” Arbour continued. “They use rolling surveying equipment and take photos to document trail and pathway conditions.”View image on Twitter
Arbour explained that the “equipment” hundreds of outraged parents mistook in photos to be a laptop mounted on an empty stroller was actually a type of “buggy” used to collect data on things like trail slopes and surface conditions.
“They’re documenting the conditions of trails and pathways parks across the city right now,” said Arbour by phone on Monday afternoon, confirming that both of the people seen in photos taken at Spenvalley Park last week work for a consulting company that is under contract with the city.
A viral Facebook post, in which one local woman warned people to be on the lookout for these suspicious park people, noted that a concerned parent did ask the couple for some sort of identification.
Unable to provide any credentials, the couple is said to have hurried into a vehicle and left.
Hmmm. This “stroller with a laptop” looks a lot like a High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process. It is customized using a stroller and is a device used to collect detailed data on trails to assess accessibility.
https://twitter.com/blogTO/status/1153363417782247424 …blogTO✔@blogTOMan with laptop seen filming kids in park and #Toronto is furious http://bit.ly/2YlWNRA 2:04 PM – Jul 22, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Cameron Richardson’s other Tweets
Arbour said she understands why people were confused, noting that the concerns of parents are “very valid” and that signs will be affixed to this type of equipment in the future.
“In order to avoid this situation in the future, they’ll be carrying credentials and will present them if asked,” she said of the surveying team.
“We do really understand the need for people undertaking this kind of work to be able to show credentials.”