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COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Hard to believe vandals would burn playgrounds

By Scott Duvall, special to the News

It is disheartening that certain individuals find it entertaining to damage our city parks. More so, it is frightening to comprehend why these individuals would set children’s playground equipment on fire.
Is it a form of bullying or just an act of utter disregard for our community and our children? I cannot fathom why anyone would try to take enjoyment away from a child.
Taxpayers expect, and pay large amounts of money to have, recreation in their neighbourhoods, where they can take the little ones for a walk, let them play on swings, monkey bars, climbing equipment and slides. Not only is it good fun, but great exercise.
On Nov. 16, police and fire were called to an early morning fire at Bruleville Park which caused extensive damage to the playground equipment. The cost to clean up and replace the equipment is about $50,000.
Last year, vandals torched playground equipment at Elmar and Trenholmes Parks which caused $70,000 in damages and replacement.
Hamilton Police have requested all three fires be investigated by the arson unit. They are looking into persons of interest, but at this time I have no knowledge of any arrests being made. I appreciate the work our city recreation staff do to have the playground equipment replaced in a timely manner for children to enjoy, but cannot understand why anyone would be this destructive in the first place.
Most parks have signs stating activity or loitering is not allowed between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Residents should call the police if they see suspicious activity happening in any park, or if they have any information pertaining to these incidents.
On another issue, with winter approaching, we know that the snow will be coming soon, so city council has reviewed its winter control program for snow clearing.
After some problems were encountered last year, staff reported back on a series of council complaints, with recommendations for quality improvements going forward in 2014. While main arterial roads will be given priority overall, side streets and courts will be given the same service, which is to plow snow to the curb of the boulevard or sidewalk where possible.
When snow plowing is needed, it is important for  residents to move their cars off the streets if possible, to avoid large accumulations of snow banks that narrow the roadway.
All residents should be able to drive and park safely on our city streets.
Please also keep in mind that our seniors and people with disabilities may need help with the removal of snow on their property and would be grateful for the assistance of a kind neighbour.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year.
Scott Duvall is councillor for Ward 7 (central Mountain).

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