A resident of Burk's Falls is pleased council will look into installing a camera system at the Burk's Falls Community Playground. Ryan Baptiste wrote a letter to council explaining that recently the park has become the site for increased vandalism and is becoming unsafe. Baptiste asked if council would consider installing cameras at the site and added there are many residents willing to pitch in to help buy the equipment. Coun. John Wilson said a camera monitoring system at the park wouldn't be cheap and could cost as much as $20,000. Coun. Lisa Wilson said there used to be a camera at the park, but someone stole it. In the past, Mayor Cathy Still has also asked the local OPP to visit the playground more often. Council agreed the next camera system would need to be more securely installed to make theft of the equipment more difficult. In a phone interview with The Nugget, Baptiste said visitors can regularly find broken glass at the park, half empty bottles of liquor, litter and garbage cans tipped over. Baptiste added in some cases the portable toilets have also been knocked over. The park equipment includes a see-saw and both ends have large tires which stop the see-saw from hitting the ground at one end so the youngster at the opposite end doesn't get too high off the ground. But Baptiste says someone removed the tires, which made it more difficult for the younger children to use the see-saw. “It's disappointing for my kids because when the vandalism occurs, there are some things they can't use or do,” Baptiste, who has an eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, said. His wife can spend hours at the park with their children but Baptiste says the visits are cut short if the facility has been vandalized the night before. Baptiste says of particular concern is the broken glass. “It would be nice if kids can run around barefoot in the grass without parents having to worry if they're going to step on broken glass,” he said. Baptiste says it seems vandalism has become more rampant in the last two to three years. A community Facebook page with about 200 members where people share information about activities and events has recently focused on the park vandalism. Baptiste says residents are talking about it. Baptiste says the condition at the park became so bad on one occasion about a month ago that a mother and her two children took it upon themselves to clean up the facility and filled nearly two bags of garbage, which included broken glass. Baptiste says this became the tipping point for community members to approach the council about installing the cameras. Baptiste says there's relief that council heard the residents and the hope is the issue can be addressed in the short term.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget