Visitors: Is The Hammer Dropping?

By John Swartz

Monday’s council meeting included a last minute addition to the agenda, a by-law to appoint fire chief Brent Thomas as a by-law enforcement officer.

In addition to the regular compliment of officers, fire prevention officers and some other staff already have the designation. This move is to allow the Thomas, who frequents the parks as part of emergency measures, to issue tickets for infractions he observes.

This is only one step of a number the mayor alluded to which may be coming this week following Tuesday’s emergence management committee meeting.

“We’ve seen a reduction in overall traffic the last couple of weekends, certainly an exception was this past Saturday with ideal weather and certainly people are getting very creative. Needless to say there are a few issues,” said Clarke.

“We are not where we need to be yet with those measures and we’ll look to turn that around for the weekend and if that doesn’t work we’ll look at other measures because it needs to be brought under control.”

Councillor Tim Lauer asked if there was an activity update for the weekend and Gayle Jackson, Orillia’s CAO, said parking was the most noticeable issue.

“Some of the primary challenges we were faced with certainly would be parking along the highway as well as the parking in private lots around Tudhope Park and Couchiching Beach Park. Those property owners, certainly we have reached out to those property owners.” The emergency by-law prohibits private property owners around the parks from allowing parking by visitors to Orillia on their properties. Last Friday evening the City got approval from the attorney general to set the emergency measures parking fine at $80.

Councillor Ralph Cipolla had a request based on his observations from park visits.

“Is it possible to consider hiring security officers for Saturday and Sunday only to be in the park, or use volunteer constables from the OPP to patrol the park?”

Mayor Clarke said while it was not germane to the by-law in question, he would take the suggestion to the committee meeting Tuesday. Councillor Ted Emond, who is chair of the emergency committee, said he too visited the parks on the weekend.

“It was just personal observation on the weekend that obviously enforcement is a challenge to us,” said Emond.

Councillor Pat Hehn asked about using BBQs in city parks, how much the tickets are and how does the City get payment for tickets. The fine is $300 and Chief Thomas counted 56 BBQs on the go during one visit to the park. Worse, some of those people are just dumping their coals on the grass when they are done.

“It is a provincial offences act offence and consequently it is filed with the court system and there is certainly a process through the court system to ensure payment,” said Jackson.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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