JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN
Some of the graffiti that can be seen along a walkway off Cornwallis Crescent. City council approved a motion this week to close the path to pedestrians.
A walkway plagued by vandalism, vulgar graffiti and recurring drug/alcohol use in Brandon’s south end will soon be closed to pedestrians.
City council approved the path closure Monday night. It’ll be fenced off immediately, with a permanent solution to be determined in the next year. (GRANT HAMILTON/BRANDON SUN)
The path, located off Cornwallis Crescent, has been a thorn in the side of many homeowners in the neighbourhood over the past two years.
"One evening I was out in my yard … these three people came along, young adults … and they were drinking from a vodka bottle," said John Gross, a Balmoral Bay resident of 35 years. "They finished the vodka bottle and threw it against my fence. It didn’t break so one of the girls picked it up and smashed it on the pavement. I asked them to pick it up. They just looked at me and laughed."
Gross, along with his wife Betty, appeared before Brandon City Council earlier this week, outlining the recurring problems of the walkway. The couple also presented a petition, which included 57 households (111 signatures) in favour of closing the walkway. Only one household was opposed.
"We are asking for your help in solving our problem of the neighbourhood walkway," Betty said.
The petition, which was circulated in June, gives examples of serious incidents that have occurred over the past two years, including kicked-in fence boards, offensive graffiti on a new fence, noise, rowdiness, selling drugs, drinking alcohol and verbal abuse when teens are asked to move.
Neighbours reported they are afraid to use the walkway when groups of people are congregated in the area.
The walkway spans about 300 feet west from Cornwallis Crescent to the walkway that connects Balmoral Bay and MacLeod Drive.
"Another serious problem we have … is with teenagers hanging out there," John Gross said. "There could be anywhere from five to 25 teenagers hanging around. They trespass into the neighbours’ yards, they’ve let a little dog out … went over another fence and broke down a metal shed."
The path is in relatively close vicinity to Crocus Plains high school, and it is believed the groups of teens come from the school.
There has also been evidence of drug use, with paraphernalia found in the lane.
"I’ve gone out and spoken to these teenagers. I’ve asked them to move. I’ve got sworn at. One boy offered to fight me, but I am a little too old for that," Gross said.
Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) said it was important to address this issue "sooner rather than later," preferably before the new school year begins.
"I think the big thing here is about safety," Chaboyer said.
The process of closing the walkway permanently would take up to a year to complete. However, the Gross family asked the city for an immediate, temporary solution.
Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) agreed that this is the step that should be taken.
"It’s clear that it’s well supported by the area residents," he said. "I think this is the prudent step, to block it off and prohibit access."
Council approved a motion to close the walkway immediately, and in the meantime work on the permanent closure and conveyance of land to adjacent property owners, to eventually move fence lines.
Ted Snure, the city’s general manager of development services, said a chain link fence will be installed at the east and west boundary of the walkway.
"The chain link fence is intended to be a temporary measure during the approximate one-year period we think it will take to close and convey the land," he said. "We have sent letters to the adjoining property owners of council’s intent to close the walkway and see if they are interested in acquiring the land."
Neighbourhood residents have offered to maintain the land in the meantime.
The plan is to connect the chain link to existing fence lines, and Snure said the city will install it as soon as possible, hopefully within the next few weeks.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 21, 2013