By Mark Squibb | Aug. 27, 2020
Spaniard’s Bay council discussed a committee request in the August 10 public council meeting that requested both the purchase and installation of video surveillance at the town’s recreation centre and playground area, as well as funding to complete repairs of the facility, specifically, to the women’s bathroom.
Estimates for the bathroom repairs came in at $4,390, and an estimate for the video surveillance came in at approximately $1,500.
“We could probably deal with one request at a time,” said Mayor Paul Brazil, and so council tackled the question of repairs first.
“We did budget a $4,000 recreation facilities grant,” noted CAO Tony Ryan.
“We budgeted $4,000 and I think we were planning on doing a little bit of exterior work, siding repairs, but they deemed that the ladies’ bathroom is a priority for them this year, over the exterior work.,” said Brazil. “And we’re pretty close to what was budgeted for repairs this year as to the quote they have for the work that needs to be done with the washroom.”
That means the siding would have to be postponed, and possibly budgeted for next year.
Councillor David Smith argued the washroom repairs ought to take priority over the siding, and noted the men’s washroom was already up to par.
The motion was that council approve the reallocation of funding in the amount of $4,309 to repair the washroom and to postpone the exterior siding.
Council then tackled the request for surveillance to combat vandalism at the recreation centre.
“I suppose vandalism was always an issue down there, for the 20 odd years I’ve been down there,” said Brazil, with councillor Paul Ryan adding that vandalism was an issue everywhere.
“It’s ridiculous, and it’s the same person almost every time doing this, and nothing’s getting done,” said Ryan.
“Between vandalism, illegal dumping garbage on the side of the road, illegal ATV and dirt bike traffic, every community in the province experiences just about the same thing with those issues,” said Brazil.
Deputy Mayor Darlene Stamp asked if the Town already had video surveillance equipment that they could move to accommodate the request, to which Brazil noted the Town did once have video surveillance at the recreation centre, but it had been destroyed.
“It didn’t last a season,” he said. “That was before we had the fence. So, when I was on recreation, I was a strong advocate that before we spend any more money upgrading the facilities, first we had to find a way to protect it. And the only way to do that was to put at least an eight-foot fence around the whole perimeter. And even doing that, we still got people climbing the eight-foot fence to do vandalism,” said Brazil.
Stamp asked what purpose the surveillance would serve.
“Wouldn’t it be better to have an alarm system than a surveillance camera?” she asked.
Brazil said the protocol would be to call the RCMP if they caught incriminating activity on the surveillance footage; but, as Stamp noted, by that point the damage would have already been done.
“We have got to do something, because if not it’s just going to get worse,” said Stamp. “They destroyed one of those industrial slides. They’re not broken easily.”
The slide was estimated to cost about $4,000.
“So, that’s four grand gone. It’s got to stop,” agreed Ryan.
Brazil said the fence is also damaged in places.
“They tore the top rail off an eight-foot fence. The top rail, not the bottom one or the middle one, the top one. A steel rail,” said Brazil.
Councillor Tracy Smith added that a lock had been cut off the recreation centre fence.
Despite the general need for something to be done about the vandalism, council did not vote on the surveillance cameras.
“It’s probably necessary, but we didn’t allocate any funds for this project this year. I think we can probably notify all the chairs of our committees to let us know in advance for budgeting what their concerns are that they would like to have addressed in the following year’s budget,” said Brazil.
There was another brief discussion on how beneficial the cameras would actually be if purchased.
“Is the quality going to be accepted as credible evidence for identification purposes in a $1,500 system, or is it only going to be enough for people to be on facebook lambasting people that they suspect?” asked Brazil.
“If we’re getting that much damage done out there, why don’t we just refer it to the police and let them do the surveillance and gather the evidence, the way it’s supposed to be. If they gather it, they could use it in court. If we gather it, I don’t know if we can even use it in court,” Stamp said. “I don’t think a surveillance camera is going to address the issue that’s on the go down there.”
Brazil concurred that it is a serious concern.
“It’s ongoing, it’s consistent, it’s next to impossible to eradicate,” said the mayor.
The decision was made to send the item back to the recreation committee to research further and present at a later time.