After hearing from neighbours about noise, vandalism and unsafe behaviour in Brown Drive Park, Ladysmith council is taking steps to find solutions.
During the Nov. 3 council meeting, councillors learned that Town staff has requested that BC Hydro activate the lights that are in the park.
“BC Hydro has confirmed there is no cost to activate the lights,” Clayton Postings, the director of parks, recreation and culture, said in his report to council. “The date when the lights will be connected is unknown.”
Council will request the RCMP to complete a “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” (CEPTED) or similar report on Brown Drive Park, as it relates to lighting in the park, as well as other design alterations that could make the park a safer environment and less desirable for after-hours access.
Council has also directed staff to investigate restricting after-hours access to Town parks.
“To date, the RCMP have responded to calls and dealt with the matter to the best of their ability, yet it seems that a change to the design of the area is required to make this location less desirable for individuals to congregate in after hours,” Postings wrote in his report.
Ladysmith Parks staff will work with the RCMP, and Postings says the CEPTED or similar report from the RCMP will assist staff in determining the best options for the park.
“The CEPTED report develops strategies to make the space safer and relies upon the ability to influence offender decisions specifically by altering the physical design of the environment in which the individuals are congregating in order to deter the unwanted activity,” he explained. “This could include lighting, hedges and other means of deterring the unwanted activity.”
Postings says there is no cost to activate the lights, other than the cost of electricity. The addition of timers and sensors is estimated to be approximately $2,000. To install a sound device would cost approximately $4,000, and all other expenses can be covered through current operations budgets.
Coun. Duck Paterson, who opposed the motion, asked why the Town couldn’t try the lights and not bother doing the report.
“It was brought up at the last meeting that there are concerns from the neighbours, I got an e-mail again today about episodes Halloween weekend, and the RCMP are aware of it,” he said. “They have been aware of the issues there for a while. Doing another study when the goal is to try and alleviate the unruly crowds that gather there periodically, why don’t we just try the lights? The alternative [in the staff report] is ‘activate the lights, monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed in the future.’ Looking at the possibility of putting up hedges, altering the park or playground, are just cost items. My way of thinking is let’s get this done now, and then if it doesn’t work, try other things. Why bother spending money on it when the RCMP are busy, our staff is busy.”
Mayor Rob Hutchins said no one knows the timeline for activating the lights, and it could be a week or three months. The report will identify if there are any other tools the RCMP can assist the Town with to manage the situation, he explained.
“I have never heard of a disadvantage of completing a CEPTED,” he added.
City manager Ruth Malli says there will be no cost to the Town for these reports, and knowing that, Coun. Jillian Dashwood wondered what the harm would be of having the report done.
“The courses we have done on CEPTED I think have been really good, but as long as it doesn’t cost anything, is there any harm in having somebody look into the future? We’re still going to have the lights,” she said.