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Friday, July 10, 2020

Someone was just attacked on King West for taking video of busy patios

Fun as they may be to hang out on after four months of staying home, not everybody is loving the new curbside patios popping up in Toronto.

Local resident Lou Stewolz recently grew concerned about how little space was left for pedestrians on the southern sidewalk of King Street West between Portland and Bathurst Streets lately.

Under the new CaféTO program, a host of restaurants along the busy downtown strip have launched new sidewalk and curb lane patios.

In theory, it's a great solution for businesses to serve their customers while indoor dining remains prohibited under Stage 2 of the provincial government's reopening plan  — but in practice, at least along this particular part of King West, it can get a bit messy.

"I was walking down king street, saw that it gets very narrow between patios and sidewalks so I decided to film it," wrote Stewolz in an email to blogTO.

"While recording, I was attacked from behind by some patrons of Ruby Soho and Locals Only. I just wanted to show how narrow and crowded it has become with guests, servers, as well as people walking down the sidewalk.

The video certainly illustrates how busy the sidewalk in front of Ruby Soho, Locals Only, Lee and Wvrst has become, but it also shows how unruly the behaviour of recently cooped up drinkers can get.

"Ready for this? This is what we're going to do," says Stewolz from behind the camera as he walks down the sidewalk filming. "See? We're gunna get nice and close to everyone... nice and close—"

All of the sudden the camera falls as a kerfuffle ensues. Another man can be heard saying "the f*ck are you filming? Get the f*ck out of here!"

Several male voices go back and forth, threatening to knock each other out, calling someone a loser and arguing over the legality of filming in a public space.

Stewolz eventually moves along and says "Everybody see this? That's what happens when you try to walk on a sidewalk that's very narrow and there's not six feet around here!"

"And everyone's mad that their bosses might see or something," he remarks as a group of young women scramble from their outdoor patio seats when he approaches.

The video ends with someone approaching Stewolz again and telling him to leave the area, while Stewolz says "touch me [and] I will knock you the fuck out."

None of the attacks can be seen in the video, only heard as the camera swings wildly, but the concerned Toronto resident says that multiple people joined in after one man in a black shirt initiated the confrontation.

The jury seems to be out over who was in the wrong here on Twitter, with some people criticizing Stewolz for filming in the first place, some denouncing the general behaviour of people who hang out in King West, and others blaming the city for not doing more to ensure social distancing rules are enforced.

As of Thursday, the city said nearly 800 business operators had registered for the CaféTO program.

Some 550 of those applications have been verified and more than 125 curb lane closures and sidewalk patio expansions have now been authorized to run until the program ends on Nov. 16.

by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

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