Watch for video cameras to appear in Breslau Memorial Park and Lions Park in Elmira in response to acts of vandalism.
The township has seen some $8,000 in damage at the two locations, along with vandalism at some of its other recreation facilities. Meeting this week, Woolwich councillors agreed to the option of video surveillance.
Beyond graffiti, the principal areas of destructive vandalism have been park washroom facilities and fieldhouses, manager of operations and projects Thomas van der Hoff told councillors meeting Monday night.
“In an effort to mitigate the ongoing concerns, recreation and community services staff have implemented operational procedures including adjusting shifts to accommodate an evening washroom inspection, adjusting park washroom closure times, removal of graffiti, improving facility exterior lighting, and reporting of incidents to the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS),” he said in a report.
The shifting washroom times help ensure the facilities so they’re not accessible after nightfall. Better lighting is expected in conjunction with the cameras.
The crimes have been associated with high school-aged kids.
Such vandalism is not a problem just for the township, “this is a whole community problem,” said Coun. Patrick Merlihan, noting parents might want to speak to their children about the issue. He also called on residents who see anything going on to call the authorities.
“When you see something, report it.”
Residents can call the township bylaw or police non-emergency line (519-570-9777), said van der Hoff.
Mayor Sandy Shantz called the vandalism “very disappointing” to taxpayers, who are on the hook for the costs.
Expressing some concerns about video surveillance that ultimately led him to oppose the move, Merlihan asked if recreation staff had found similar uses of cameras in other municipalities.
In response, van der Hoff said police had identified only one other example: Victoria Park in Kitchener.
Along with the steps taken, Woolwich will look at a public-education campaign to counter future vandalism, said municipal clerk Jeff Smith.