London Mayor Ed Holder didn’t mince words on Monday, describing scofflaw golfers who were seen hitting the links at a closed city-owned course as being “some of the most ignorant, inconsiderate people that London has.”
Holder’s comments came after a media report early Monday that several people were observed golfing at Fanshawe Golf Course over the weekend despite it being closed to the public as a result of the province’s pandemic restrictions.
At least three people were witnessed by a reporter with CTV London on the course Sunday afternoon, with unverified reports that upwards of 20 players at a time were on the course, the outlet reported.
Golf courses and other outdoor recreational facilities like tennis courts were closed in mid-April as part of the province’s stricter and extended stay-at-home order.
“I understand why people want to get out. I understand why they want to golf. But I find this particular activity disrespectful, ignorant behaviour,” Holder said during a scheduled media briefing on Monday with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“No one is above the law, and these individuals know they are breaking the law. They’re trespassing and they’re running afoul of provincial emergency legislation.”
City bylaw officers are looking into the incident, Holder said, adding he hoped that the golfers are caught and handed the “maximum fine to make the point.”
“As much as I would like to have golf courses open, if it was up to me, it is not the legislation of the day. And as a result of that, when these people blatantly do this, we should all be offended by that activity.”
Asked whether there were plans to post security at the city’s courses to prevent others from sneaking onto the fairways, Holder replied, “yes,” but didn’t elaborate further.
Global News has reached out to the London Police Service for comment.
Ontario golfers have been frustrated by the provincewide closures, with some courses even opening in protest, including The Bridges at Tillsonburg, located just outside of London.
On Monday, provincial police announced that 19 patrons of the course had been charged over the weekend with failing to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act. No further information was released.
They’re just the latest charges to be laid in connection with the course in the last week.
The OPP announced on Thursday that the course had been charged with failing to comply with the closure order. On Saturday, police announced two additional charges against the course and five involving patrons.
While the online portal to book a tee time at The Bridges was closed to the public on Monday, an employee confirmed to Global News that the club was still open.
— With files from Jacquelyn LeBel of Global News