Scarborough Bluffs Park getting a name change to keep tourists safe

Scarborough Bluffs Park getting a name change to keep tourists safe

Local councillors voted to change the name of Scarborough Bluffs Park on Tuesday.

Why?

Because, as city park staff noted, visitors — many relying on GPS or Google Maps — were mistaking the Undercliff Drive park, which sits atop the bluffs, for the beach and park at the base of Scarborough's iconic shoreline, which is actually called Bluffer's Park.

It's an easy mistake to make, especially as Google Maps shows the park's location next to an image of a lake-level walking trail, and it was leading to some serious problems.

"Google was directing them to this little park ... it wasn't directing them where they wanted to go," Coun. Gary Crawford told CBC Radio's Here and Now.

There are places it looks like you can climb down to the beach, Crawford said, but people trying to climb down often wind up stuck and requiring a rescue. 

Emergency crews were called to the area some 26 times last year to help people, and Crawford said some of the rescues cost the city tens of thousands of dollars. Scarier still, there have been fatalities in the area.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful spot, but it can be dangerous," Crawford said. 

Park staff also noted the mixups are leading to "public confusion and disappointment," as well as parking woes on what's usually a quiet residential area.

City staff have been working with Google to fix the problems. A Google Canada spokesperson said in a statement its maps draw from a variety of data sources as well as user-generated contributions.

"We encourage users and local agencies to let us know of local changes so we can make the updates as quickly as possible," the statement said.

The new name? Scarboro Crescent Park — and no, Scarboro is not a typo, it's apparently the old spelling of Scarborough.​

Clean up the litter, don't change the name, resident urges

Cora Kofoed, who has been living across from the park for more than 30 years, has seen several of those rescues, but still doesn't think the park's name needs to change.

"Why can't you just leave it as is?" she asked.

"That name has been here since the beginning, since the Ice Age — there's a plaque over there saying how the park was created during the Ice Age — why can't they just leave it alone?"

Kofoed says she and other neighbours are happy to share their beautiful park, but says visitors should use some common sense when planning their visits and adhere to the city's rules when they arrive.

"They have signs now that there's no access to the beach, but people don't pay attention — but that's their problem, not mine."

Kofoed says the biggest issue at the park is all the litter that's left there after busy summer weekends.

Crawford said he hopes the changes will be recognized by summer. Anyone heading out to the area in the coming weeks should also take caution, he said, as recent rain has made the cliffside unstable in places.