Public Park or Public Disorder?

Of Dogs, Cigarette Butts, Garbage and Water Recycling

On July 27, 2019 I dropped off a nicely wrapped package for CRD Director Gary Holman at the CRD office on McPhillips Avenue. I never received a response to, or action on, the following letter that was enclosed….

Re – Centennial Park

Open Letter to CRD Director Gary Holman

Dear Director Holman,

As you know, Centennial Park is owned and maintained by CRD. It has a playground for children, and, it should be a place where children of all ages can wander around without having to wade through cigarette butts, bottle caps, aluminum can tabs and dog shit. In a day and age where there is such a public outcry over plastic pollution, it should also be a place where plastic is not present.

On Saturday, July 27, 2019, I spent two hours primarily picking up the cigarette butts in the park. I have forwarded them to you with this letter for your inspection, since usually politicians disassociate actual problems with reality.

Now imagine a two year old walking around, bending down and putting one of these in his/her mouth, as curious children sometimes do.

Centennial Park is a NO SMOKING area, under the jurisdiction of the CRD, and yet, it clearly is not.

The CRD Clean Air Bylaw, 3962, allows for up to a $2,000 fine for an offence.  I went onto the CRD site and found the following:

How is the Bylaw enforced?

Encouraging compliance with the bylaw includes:

  • Targeted education and awareness
  • Sufficient and proper signage
  • Voluntary compliance & peer pressure
  • Rotation of physical presence and monitoring by Island Health enforcement officers
  • Ticketing in specific situations

Could you please tell me, other that “signage” why the bylaw is not being enforced? If you are hoping the signage is working, I encourage you to take another look in the box.

The park is open to the public 24 hours a day, and, smoking evidently only happens when bylaw enforcement officers aren’t around. What good is a public health bylaw if the CRD is not going to enforce it?

In addition, the penalty for littering is $250 under CRD Bylaw 1857. In other words, if a smoker butts out in the park, as is obvious from the enclosed evidence, they could be fined an additional $250.

I would ask you how many fines have been handed out for either smoking or littering in the park over the past year, but I won’t because I’ll give $100 to a charity of your choice if you can show me just one from the past year…I’m putting my money there has been nothing other than, at the most, a “Oh please don’t smoke in the park sir.”

By now, you’re likely getting my point, but, the question is – Are you going to instruct Bylaw Enforcement to hand out a few fines to bring it to the attention of those who let dogs crap in the park (by the way, I didn’t add the dog shit I picked up in the park this morning), or those who smoke, or those who butt out?

CRD Staff maintenance try and keep up with the daily garbage left in the park, and I give kudos to them for doing a decent job. Please help them by making a few “fine” examples, and maybe the word will get around that our CRD Director actually cares about the state of Centennial Park.

And, while we are on that subject, do something about the dust bowl the park has become every summer. It’s state is a disgrace. You are in charge of sending 110,000+ gallons of near potable water out into Ganges Harbour every day, and yet you can’t figure a way to water the lawns with it? A simple flocculation (to get rid of viruses) and UV treatment (to deal with bacteria) system with a pump and piping to connect the sprinkler system would be a great achievement that doesn’t need a study to implement. Whatever the cost, put it to a reverse referendum and I can guarantee it will pass.  I have yet to meet anyone who isn’t disgusted that that amount of water is wasted every day.

So, some anti-littering signs…or “Act Like an Adult and Pick up Your Garbage”….or “This Park is Inhabited by Children, Please Keep it Clean”… would perhaps help, but, a few fines to get the message across, and, some evening patrols by Bylaw Enforcement would be appreciated by all of your constituents…even the ones that didn’t vote for you.

Thanks for your attention, and we look forward to your response.

Best regards,

Eric Booth

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