There is a worrying trend in South Dundas that has been on the rise in recent years, and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Public safety and destruction of property in the community has been at the forefront of recent conversations.
Trees, park benches, and other equipment damaged in South Dundas parks this fall highlights the vandalism aspect. Much of the damaged or destroyed items came through the efforts of this community – through volunteerism or fundraising. Trees planted by local Girl Guides only a couple of years ago in the Morrisburg waterfront park, destroyed. Mature trees – which this community has far fewer of thanks to the Emerald Ash Borer – were damaged. Park benches donated by the local Lions club, smashed. Last year it was the beach building where a mural was spray-painted over with obscenities. To date, police have not caught anyone responsible in the Morrisburg parks. While it is great that some people have stepped forward to donate money to repair and clean up the vandalism, it should not be happening in the first place.
Another issue on the rise has been street racing among other vehicle issues. A recent flight from police in a population-dense neighbourhood saw two police vehicles damaged. It is lucky that there was only vehicle damage and not something far worse given the time-of-day and density of the neighbourhood. Speeding vehicles around the villages is not a new problem, but it is worsening. The lack of sidewalks in many residential village areas of South Dundas, forcing people to walk on the side of the street, is a safety issue.
Attempting to fix all these issues needs resources and action. Increased monitoring of our parks and streets by police deter vandalism. Targeted enforcement of known offenders and their vehicles, also by the police, will make the streets safer. Adding traffic calming measures to some of the known “speedways” will also help.
There is also a shared social responsibility we all have to ensure our community is a safe community. Incidents of vandalism in South Dundas are first reported on social media instead of to the police. Internet investigation trumps actual investigation by authorities. Where issues are happening – like in our parks and public spaces – we should also be proactive. If you see something, call the municipality or police before posting online. Many communities still have Neighbourhood Watch programs. Should South Dundas?
Spending time, money, and resources to ensure that our community remains a safe community for everybody needs to be a priority.