It may not be long until park patrol officers are back on the trails of Point Pleasant Park.
Members of the Point Pleasant Park advisory committee passed a motion Thursday evening recommending the reinstatement of a park patrol program to the Halifax and West community council. It’s an important step for a return of the patrol, as the council can now recommend a staff report be done on it.
The Point Pleasant committee’s members said patrols can not only better enforce rules at the 185-acre park but relieve Halifax Regional Police officers of less significant duties. Since dedicated patrol positions were removed in 2011, most park enforcement duties fell to police and compliance officers.
The presence of park patrol to respond to smaller matters can make a difference, said committee chair Jake Dambergs.
“The idea would be to have someone who drives through the park once or twice a day, as easy as that. But right now, it’s none,” he said during the meeting.
Dambergs introduced the matter to the committee during its Sept. 1 meeting. He said he hears about issues happening at the park that don’t warrant a police response, such as joggers being chased by dogs. The park is popular with pet owners in the city.
Reconsideration of police presence
Coun. Waye Mason, who attended both meetings, said in an email that park users have asked for better enforcement of bylaws in the park. Namely, some are concerned about off-leash dogs appearing in on-leash areas: Cambridge Drive, the parking lots and Sailors Memorial Way (after 10 a.m.).
A non-police presence, he said, would be most effective for enforcing park rules like this.
“Using police seems like a poor use of resources for what are almost always minor matters,” Mason said in the email.
Other enforcement concerns include bonfires at Point Pleasant Park, as mentioned on Thursday by committee member Brian MacDonald. Open fires are banned at the park.
Some users of Point Pleasant Park are in favour of designated patrols. Peter Reilly, who walks his dog Jack regularly at the park, said patrols are “not a bad thing” for parkgoers.
“You don’t necessarily need a full armed response when you’re dealing with something at a public park,” he said, referring to the police force’s park responsibilities.
Carlee Ryan, another park user, said she’s not aware of major issues at the park requiring a response from HRP.
“I just can’t see why the police need to be here.”
More than a decade ago, patrols monitored the park instead of the police. They even had the authority to write tickets.
But according to a 2015 Halifax and West Community Council report, new signage and the launch of the park’s website in 2007 reduced the need for patrol duties. Parking enforcement was added to the park patrol’s duties that year, while animal control services took over off-leash dog responses. Four years later, the patrol was officially eliminated.
The extent of a new patrol’s duties wasn’t determined during the Point Pleasant committee’s meetings.
About the author
Luke Dyment is a Halifax-based reporter from Prince Edward Island. He has written for the Globe and Mail, The Signal and the Dalhousie Gazette....