Public surveillance cameras are being considered as a way for Sarnia to curb vandalism in Canatara Park, says the city’s deputy police chief.
Cameras could be installed to overlook “high problem areas,” said Bob Farlow, who stressed surveillance is only one potential tool under discussion.
“People love Canatara and they want to keep the park safe and beautiful,” he said, adding the “vast majority” of citizens would likely be in favour of electronic surveillance.
“Hopefully, cameras would give us specifics (of a crime) and allow us to have more eyes and ears.”
Sarnia’s premier park is beset with problems that include graffiti, the cutting and burning of wooden structures and trees, parking lot drag races and ATVs bombing around on the beach at night.
The dumping of garbage, including old mattresses and computers, is another problem.
Police and the parks department are working on an anti-vandalism strategy called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or CPTED, which involves changing the physical environment to discourage mischief.
Farlow said problems at Canatara aren’t new. A curfew banning visitors from midnight to 5 a.m. has been in place for years, and it’s patrolled on a regular basis.
Sarnia Police are currently wrapping up its CPTED report.
“Proactive, not reactive,” is how parks and recreation director Beth Gignac describes the multi-disciplinary approach.
Facets include the installation of barriers, increased lighting, armour stone, tree plantings to block traffic areas, and cutting back foliage to discourage criminal activity.
“It’s about creating a clear line of sight,” said Gignac, who noted cutting back shrubbery at Clearwater Arena has helped at that facility.
Vandals eat up a lot of valuable taxpayer money, she added.
“It’s very hard for us to get ahead of the curve. We want to remind people, Canatara Park is for all of us, and we have a collective responsibility to create mutual respect.”
Sarnia has 110 parks covering 140 hectares. Eventually, a plan will be developed for all of them, Gignac said.
Sarnia Police media officer John Sottasanti said the CPTED recommendations start with Canatara. Germain is next on the agenda, he said, noting the Sabre Jet aircraft memorial is a favourite target.
No design changes, however, can match the impact that people have by reporting crime they see to police, Farlow said.
“We need help from citizens.”