Fort St. John city council will vote next week on a series of a measures to improve safety at Toboggan Hill Park.
In a June 14 report to council, CAO Milo MacDonald says the staff proposal to clean up dead brush and install more signs, seating, and lighting “provides a way of starting a conversation about what approaches will lead to the desired outcomes of reduced vandalism and undesirable behavior” in the park.
The number of calls to municipal parks increased significantly in 2020, with 80 reported incidents, up from 17 the year prior, according to statistics in the report.
The report notes that the city hired a contract security firm last year to monitor Toboggan Hill and Centennial Park, and while that helped to reduce incidents, the city says it is not a feasible option for the long-term.
The proposed plan being presented to council includes clearing the amount of brush and dead trees adjacent to the skate park, adding more seating areas to encourage parents to monitor their children, and creating more programs to promote positive use of the park.
“The location of the skate park was selected due to the high visibility of the site and the goal of having passive surveillance at all times with the skate park being visible from two busy streets,” the report states.
However, “There have been well known issues with drug use, setting of small fires, left items, garbage and vandalism. The area adjacent to the skate park is fairly dense with a large amount of accumulation of fallen branches and dense shrubbery,” she said.
The plan also proposes ongoing visits from bylaw, RCMP and park ambassadors.
The city estimates it will cost $55,000 to improve the landscaping of the park. It also says it will further explore the costs of installing CCTV surveillance cameras with high resolution to reduce negative situations.
"Staff could also look into a graffiti bylaw to improve the aesthetics of the park to enhance the appearance of site management and maintenance," the report states. "A graffiti wall has been a topic for many years but further investigation and other community’s success stories should be researched further."
City staff are also proposing the city consider building a pump track at a different park, such as Surerus or Centennial park, to give young children "a different venue for their skate boards and scooters."
"Staff speculate that the removal of the Centennial Park skate park may have driven more children in a younger demographic to the Toboggan Hill skate park which then exacerbates issues of young children being exposed to teen and young adult behavior," the report states.
Read the report in full below:
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