Toronto

Parents worried as peanut butter reportedly found smeared in 4 west-end parks

Parents of children with peanut allergies are being warned by the city after peanut butter was reportedly smeared on playground equipment at four parks in Toronto.

'You wouldn't think just coming to the park your child's life could be put into danger,' mother says

Parents play with their child in Dufferin Grove Park. It's one of four west-end parks where peanut butter was found smeared on children's playground equipment. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Parents of children with peanut allergies are being warned by the city after peanut butter was reportedly smeared on playground equipment at four parks in Toronto.

Earlier this week, a parent approached City of Toronto parks staff in Dufferin Grove Park, south of Bloor Avenue on Dufferin Road, to alert them to the substance at the playground. It was quickly removed, according to Matthew Cutler, manager of Public Relations for Parks, Forestry and Recreation.

"Any vandalism of playgrounds is a serious concern for the City, especially when it prevents residents from using and enjoying the facility," Cutler said. "Given the known issues with peanuts and the risk of anaphylaxis in some children, this vandalism is even more concerning."

Parks staff have also received reports of similar situations at the following locations:

  • Carleton Park, near Dupont Street and Dundas Road
  • Perth Square Park, near Dupont Street and Symington Avenue
  • Hillcrest Park, at Davenport Road and Christie Street

Sarah Milford-Warren first heard of peanut butter being smeared on playground equipment on social media.

"A lot of the parents' Facebook groups have been putting out notices to warn other parents about it and people are calling 3-1-1 to clean it up but they keep targeting different parks," she said.

"It's pretty scary. You wouldn't think just coming to the park your child's life could be put into danger."

Peanut allergies can cause reactions ranging from hives and abdominal pain to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

The reports prompted Food Allergy Canada to post warnings on Twitter.

 

Natalie West, a mother of two, says her friends who have kids with peanut allergies are now terrified of going to the park. They are questioning why police aren't doing more to stop the vandalism.

"Peanuts for kids with peanut allergies is lethal. Why aren't the police getting involved? I don't understand because it's criminal in my opinion," West said.

"Is it not an idea to have surveillance at some of these parks where this is happening?"

But Toronto Police say they can't act until someone makes a formal complaint.

The city says anyone who sees vandalism at any city park, involving peanut butter or not, should call 3-1-1 immediately.