Amherst to beef up downtown security

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Amid vandalism at Victoria Square

AMHERST – Big Brother may soon be watching parts of downtown Amherst.

Nine-year-old Kennedy Mills (left), nine-year-old Gracie Pauley, and eight-year-old Kolby Mills were taking their scooters and bicycle for a spin in front of Victoria Square on Tuesday afternoon.

AMHERST – Big Brother may soon be watching parts of downtown Amherst.

Amid growing concerns with vandalism in Victoria Square and security issues in the parking lot behind the Dominion Public Building, Amherst is exploring installing video surveillance along Victoria Street.

“Over the last year we have had a number of incidents of vandalism in Victoria Square. Early this summer we have to replace a number of the kick plates on the band stand as they have been damaged beyond repair,” the town’s director of community and economic development Roger MacIsaac told town council during its September committee of the whole meeting. “In addition, we have had two incidents in which our decorative lamps in the square have been broken.”

MacIsaac said two lenses were broken off their bases on the smaller lamps and in the most recent incident five lenses were broken – at a cost of $469 each.

The director said concerns have also been raised about scooters and skateboards being used in the square.

“I had an occasion to direct some youth off the bandstand a few weeks ago. They had scooters and were doing jumps off the bandstand,” he said. “Also, we have had reports of late night skateboarding in the square and concerns of the damage that could be done.”

The town does have a webcam installed on the utility pole in front of the square, but it’s not a security camera and does not capture enough of the square. It also doesn’t provide a live feed to police.

There is $10,000 budgeted for security cameras and MacIsaac said staff will be seeking proposals and reporting back to council on how to proceed.

Acting police chief Ian Naylor said his officers have patrolled the square and asked skateboarders to leave, but he said charges really can’t be laid unless there’s signage prohibiting skateboarding or the use of scooters in the square. He said that presents a problem in that signs would be needed at every access point.

Mayor Robert Small and other councillors don’t want a plethora of signs in the square.

“I don’t see why we just can’t tell someone in there doing something destructive that they have to leave,” the mayor said.

Naylor said most youths caught skateboarding comply with asked to leave. He said it’s only a small percentage that’s causing problems.

Deputy Mayor George Baker suggested police conduct more patrols of the square and spend more time walking through the area as opposed to monitoring from a vehicle.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Geographic location: Amherst, Victoria Square, Victoria Street

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Recent comments

  • Eddie Goodwin
    September 21, 2013 - 04:04

    Brings back memories. Sooner or later may have to invest in a skateboarding park.

  • bud
    September 20, 2013 - 06:24

    What is the problem with skateboarders in the park? It is a public park, and members of the public want to skateboard in it.

  • Lucie Martin - Bishop
    September 19, 2013 - 22:58

    the town built a skate board park @ the stadium. That is where they are to use their skate boards, not Victoria park. i think they also have an area for skate boarders @ Lion's park.Rules need to be put in place & respected/ start dishing out fies to the parents.