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OPINION: Vandals costing us in more ways than one

Published on

George Mathewson

How do you feel about surveillance cameras being installed in city parks to keep an eye on your movements?

Or concrete barriers going up at Canatara Park to physically separate the beach from the parking lot?

Not a fan of those ideas? Me neither.

Nevertheless, those are two proposals the city is seriously considering to reduce the damage done to parks by vandals.

Local lunkheads have gone a spree lately, torching public washrooms and spray-painting graffiti on monuments.

Other yoyos are dumping garbage, destroying signs and even driving their 4X4s over Canatara’s fragile beach dunes.

And don’t hang it on “the kids.” The arrest last week of a 32-year-old man for tagging a downtown bus stop in broad daylight confirms that stupidity knows no bounds.

‘The damage is profound and I simply don’t understand it,” said Sarnia parks and rec director Beth Gignac, who cited Canatara, Tecumseh and Germain as the most frequently hit by vandals.

“It’s a very frustrating scenario.”

Gignac has been meeting with Sarnia Police brass to discuss what can be done. One strategy is to increase police patrols and install surveillance cameras in public parks to watch for bad behaviour, she told city council last month.

Another is something called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED. That involves changing the physical environment to discourage ne’er-do-wells from lurking in the dark.

Trees and underbrush around City Hall, for example, were pulled out recently to increase safety at night.

At Canatara, a combination of tiered stones and concrete slabs called Jersey barriers are planned to keep vehicles from tearing up the beach and environmentally sensitive dunes.

Residents can expect to see some changes rolled out over the next month or two, Gignac said.

“We have to do what we have to do to protect the beach. It’s a pedestrian area, it’s a protected area, and I can’t understand why people think it’s OK to drive on it.”

Another problem – less serious perhaps but just as annoying – is garbage dumping.

People are doing their spring cleaning right now and instead of buying a few extra bag tags for curbside collection some are hauling their junk to the park and leaving it beside municipal trash cans, Gignac said.

“Every neighbourhood park right now is being inundated. We’re even seeing mattresses and old sofas and televisions,” she said.

“We really would appreciate a plea to the good citizens of Sarnia, to please, help us out. If they have excess garbage, there is another way to handle that.”
































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