Parks department looking at options to curb vandalism in Little Red River Park

The City of Prince Albert’s parks department is looking at new measures to help curb theft and vandalism at Little Red River Park.

Parks manager Tim Yeaman said they’ve been looking at a few options over the last several months, including plans to install security cameras in problem areas. Internet service is the biggest problem. Yeaman said they’ve had success getting better service in the ski area, now they just need to expand it across the park, which would allow them to set up cameras.

“Little Red is such a huge park,” he explained in an interview after Monday’s executive committee meeting. “It’s 1,200 acres and we struggle every year, whether it’s (keeping) quads or ATVs out of the park (or) teens that are having a good time in the back of the park, maybe having a party or a get together. We certainly want to discourage the ATVs and the four-by-four vehicles in the park, and also some of the vandalism that’s taking place.”

While security cameras are the preferred option, Yeaman said they’d also like to have more park staff on hard during the day. He said they could take complaints from patrons who see problems, whether it’s vandalism, open liquor use or off-road vehicles. Staff could then notify police or bylaw officers.

Yeaman added that just having more people in the park should also decrease things like vandalism.

“I think the more people we get into the park, the more people we get using the park, then we can reduce the amount of issues that we have with people wanting to be there for the wrong reasons,” he explained. “I think that’s the objective that we’re trying to move towards: increase the patrons who are coming into the park, the users, and then work out from there. If we still have continued issues, we’ll address those one-by-one and see if we can come up with the appropriate response.”

Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski brought the issue forward during Monday’s executive committee meeting. Zurakowski said he’s hopeful the parks department can install cameras sooner rather than later, since repairing the damage caused by vandals is costing the City hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

“Often policing is retroactive,” he said. “I think it usually is, and if we can see that vehicle that damaged the (entrance) gate at midnight or 1 a.m. on the way out, then we know where to follow up on.”

Little Red River Park sits in Ward 2, which frequently has one of the highest rates of calls for service, according to monthly bylaw reports. In January 2020, Ward 2 saw the second highest rate of calls for bylaw assistance. Only Ward 3 was higher.

Ward 2 had the highest rate of bylaw calls in December 2019, with 23 per cent of all calls coming from that area. Ward 3 was second with 20 per cent of all calls. No other ward was higher than 13 per cent.

That trend extends to the summer months. In August 2019, 25 per cent of all bylaw calls came from Ward 2, the highest percentage in the City. The year before, in August 2018, Ward 2 saw 22 per cent of all bylaw calls for service. That tied them for top spot with Ward 3.

Ward 2 bylaw calls for service also include Hazeldale and Nordale.

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