Toronto

Toronto mother concerned after 5 playgrounds smeared with peanut butter

A Toronto mother whose daughter has a peanut allergy says she has stopped taking her children to a neighbourhood park for now after a report of peanut butter being smeared on playground equipment.

Toronto police investigate report of peanut butter on equipment at 1 park

Toronto police say they are investigating a report of peanut butter smeared on playground equipment at Wadsworth Park near Davenport Road and Laughton Avenue. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

A Toronto mother whose daughter has a peanut allergy says she has stopped taking her children to a neighbourhood park for now after a report of peanut butter being smeared on playground equipment.

Christina Thibeault, 36, a mother of two, said going to Perth Square Park, near Dupont Street and Symington Avenue, is too much of a risk for her daughter, Emily, 3, whose allergy is life-threatening.

"We are actually just playing in the backyard. I'm trying not to let it make me a prisoner in my home," Thibeault said Thursday. "The fact that someone is doing this intentionally is disgusting. It's scary. Everyone is really upset about it."

Perth is one of five Toronto parks with equipment reportedly smeared with peanut butter, which can cause a life-threatening reaction in people who are allergic to it.

Toronto police said Thursday they are investigating a report of peanut butter on equipment at Wadsworth Park, near Davenport Road and Laughton Avenue, after a complaint was made. No one has called police about the four other parks.

Thibeault, who has a new baby, Ethan,10 weeks old, found out about the vandalism involving peanut butter from a neighbourhood Facebook group. She said she will not return to the local park until reports stop surfacing about peanut butter on equipment and will probably do a quick check of equipment from now on.

She said she has read that, in at least one case, peanut butter was smeared on the underside of equipment, which means it is less likely to be noticed by adults but still within reach of children. She said she lets her daughter roam around equipment and it would be difficult to hover constantly.

'It can kill people'

"I hope it stops before it affects anybody. So far, no one has ingested it. It's horrifying, really. It can kill people."

Toronto police said parents should call police if they notice anything suspicious in a city park.

At Wadsworth, the peanut butter was cleaned up before police arrived and the cleaning hampered the police investigation because officers need to determine how much was smeared, Const. Caroline de Kloet said.

"This is a crime scene," she said. "A report was made, an investigation is underway and we are looking into it."

Last week, there were reports of similar situations at the following west-end parks, in addition to Perth:

  • Carleton Park, near Dupont Street and Dundas Road.
  • Hillcrest Park, at Davenport Road and Christie Street.
  • Dufferin Grove Park, at Bloor Street West and Dufferin Street.

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

The city says anyone who sees vandalism at any city park should call 3-1-1 immediately.