Bluffs barriers ‘protect idiots from themselves’

Daredevils on the Scarborough Bluffs don’t get much sympathy from residents or politicians.

On Nov. 13 a man tried to base-jump off the Bluffs, only to be left hanging 200 feet up after getting snagged on the cliffs. Firefighters spent more than an hour rescuing the man, who escaped the ordeal without serious injuries.

“These things happen almost regularly — once or twice a year,” said outgoing Ward 36 councillor Brian Ashton. “There’s always an idiot who wants access to the Bluffs.”

He said the best way to discourage daredevils from endangering themselves is to charge them for the cost of rescuing them.

“It’s not an accident and it costs the taxpayers,” Ashton said. “Perhaps this will make them think twice.”

Ashton said he hopes incoming councillor Gary Crawford will bring these concerns to city hall.

There are warning signs notifying the public of dangerous cliffs, Ashton said, adding people should be reasonable and responsible when exploring the Bluffs.

Guildwood Village Community Association president Timo Puhakka agreed.

“The only way of protecting people by the edge of the Bluffs is with warning signs,” he said. “And that will always be spotty at best.”

Setting up barriers along the cliff’s edge can be dangerous, Puhakka said.

“The problem with fences and barriers is that to erect these, you must dig post holes, but that weakens the bluff and causes rapid erosion,” he said.

Puhakka said the city once tried and failed to install a barrier on the Bluffs’ edge.

“I remember when the city sunk a row of post holes and installed posts on the Bluffs’ edge at Greyabbey Park,” he said. “Before they could string cables between the posts, the entire row slid to the bottom, along with 15 feet of park.”

Ashton said those who do try dangerous stunts are not thought of highly by taxpayers, who see their money spent on building barriers and cliffside rescues.

“I prefer people to just be careful [on the Bluffs] and respect nature, but it seems that folks would prefer to protect idiots from themselves,” Puhakka said.