The Town of Oromocto has hired a private security firm to deal with growing vandalism in its parks.
Oromocto Mayor Bob Powell calls it the town's "mini police force."
"Teenage vandalism is nothing new to most communities, but it does go in cycles," Powell said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.
"Last year with COVID [and] the schools closed, the teenagers had more time on their hands and no place to go. It got a little out of hand."
At the time, many teens from outside the town would gather at Anniversary Park and Deer Park at night, where they would drink and take drugs, he said.
Then they would leave and return to the area around 1 a.m. and party until 5:30 a.m.
There would often be about seven or eight vehicles blaring music at top volume and shining their high beams in people's windows.
Afterwards, Powell said, there would be garbage everywhere, and people visiting the park were finding drugs and used condoms strewn about.
'Just a mess'
The town received many complaints from neighbours living near the area.
The RCMP would be called, but by the time officers arrived, the teens would be gone.
"It was just a mess," Powell said.
For the past month, uniformed patrol officers with Triquetra Protective Services, the Fredericton-based security firm hired by the town, have been monitoring the parks.
They aren't permitted to make arrests, Powell said.
But they can lock the park gates and inform visitors that the park is closed, and they have a direct line to the RCMP.
Sunday night, every night
The security firm also monitors other parks, as well as skate parks and trails in the area, to prevent youth from congregating at night.
The town has hired them on for the month of July and possibly longer, at a cost of about $4,000 a month.
But Powell said that's cheaper than repairing the damage vandals cause.
The difference since they've been on duty has been "unbelievable," he said.
"It's almost like a Sunday night every night of the week."