IAN HITCHEN/BRANDON SUN
A broom rests against the south side of the Eighth Street bridge, which has been the subject of complaints about drinking and
City police say they and city workers are trying to clean up under a downtown bridge after complaints of drinking and loitering.
A pair of men who work near the Eighth Street Bridge say they’re "fed up" with what appears to be drunken behaviour by a group of people who hang out under the bridge.
"Basically, for the last 80 days it’s been a party under there," said one man who works at a warehouse across the street.
Brandon Police Service Const. Ron Burgess said the force has received a number of complaints about the south end of the bridge, including reports of loiterers and intoxicated people.
"We’re making an attempt to deal with the problem," Burgess said.
A warehouse worker and his co-worker shared what they’ve seen this summer, but asked not to be named.
People can be seen going under the south side of the bridge beside Pacific Avenue throughout the day, one man said.
When they re-emerge, they appear intoxicated and have been "falling across the street."
"It’s very dangerous," he said.
He estimates there are about 15 men and women who frequent the spot under the bridge.
"I’d say, for the most part, they’re 50 to 60 years old and they’re doing who knows what down there."
He said they seem to travel between the bridge and the Crystal Hotel, where there’s a beer vendor and bar.
It appears that some of this summer’s visitors to the bridge have come from a "camp" that was set up behind Christie’s Office Plus.
The men and women have fought in parking lots, the man said. His co-worker said he stepped outside recently to find a man urinating on his boss’s car.
Garbage has been strewn about the area and bushes have been used as a bathroom.
The workers said that, on Wednesday, city workers cleaned the area and police told the loiterers to leave. But one worker said he expects the crowd will be back.
"I see that happen every day, and it’s the same guys back here again, for the most part," he said.
The workers said they don’t know whether the people who hang out under the bridge are homeless. Some of the personal belongings left beneath suggest they may be.
No one was under the bridge when a Brandon Sun reporter checked out the spot on Wednesday morning.
It seemed some effort to clean was made recently as a straw broom rested against the bridge. There were only small pieces of garbage, and only one beer can, on the ground beside a log that seems to have been used as a seat.
A number of personal belongings were tucked away on a ledge formed by one of the bridge’s concrete supports.
Along the graffiti-marked ledge was clothing, several plastic bags that contained bread and buns, a backpack and a gym bag with a toothbrush sticking out of one of its pockets.
A painting of an angel also rested on the ledge — in stark contrast to a pile of feces that rested on the ground nearby.
The warehouse workers said they and co-workers have called police a number of times. In part, they’ve called out of concern about the potential for someone to be hit by traffic along Pacific Avenue.
The Canadian Pacific tracks run under the bridge, and they said they’re also concerned that someone may get hit by a train.
Police seem to respond by telling the bridge crew to move on, but the warehouse worker said more needs to be done.
"I haven’t seen one ticket printed or anyone taken away."
Burgess said police are regularly patrolling the area, while members of the city’s sanitation department will make an effort to clean the area.
That effort seems to have already begun.
Otherwise, the police response depends on the situation officers find.
Burgess said that, under the Intoxicated Person’s Detention Act, people can be lodged until sober.
Fines may also be handed out under the Liquor Control Act for such offences as drinking in a public place.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 26, 2013