Vis­i­tors ig­nor­ing signs, so city blocks Al­bion Falls paths

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - JOANNA FRKETICH jfr­ketich@thes­pec.com 905-526-3349 | @Jfr­ketich

Per­ma­nent fenc­ing is ex­pected to be in­stalled at Al­bion Falls the week of July 3 to block ac­cess to haz­ardous ar­eas af­ter a Toronto pho­tog­ra­pher plunged to his death at the pop­u­lar at­trac­tion.

In the mean­time a num­ber of safety mea­sures were put in place Fri­day in an­tic­i­pa­tion of in­creased vis­i­tors over the Canada Day week­end.

But it wasn’t do­ing much to de­ter sight­seers from dan­ger­ous paths and a set of un­safe stairs to get to the base of the falls says a res­i­dent vis­it­ing the area Satur­day af­ter­noon.

“I was pretty dis­gusted,” said 52year-old Kevin Parry. “I’ve got friends who are fire ser­vice peo­ple and they have to risk their lives to come and res­cue them. It’s to­tally un­called for.”

The city piled cut brush-trees to ob­struct un­safe paths near the des­ig­nated view­ing plat­form at the 19me­tre-high falls in the Red Hill Creek Es­carp­ment Val­ley.

Tem­po­rary fenc­ing and “Keep Out” signs were in­stalled ahead of the hol­i­day week­end.

A city-owned stair­way lead­ing to the base of Al­bion Falls has been blocked off.

And Mayor Fred Eisen­berger made a plea for cau­tion.

“I am urg­ing the pub­lic to be aware of their sur­round­ings and stay only in des­ig­nated view­ing ar­eas,” he said in a state­ment Fri­day.

But when Parry was cycling at the falls Satur­day at around 1 p.m., he saw many pay­ing no heed what­so­ever to the warn­ings.

“It was ex­tremely dan­ger­ous,” he said. “Some of the orange safety fences had been pushed down. Loads of peo­ple were go­ing past the fence or down the steps straight past all the signs, ig­nor­ing them. Even when I pointed it out to some­body, he looked at me, shook his head and car­ried on do­ing it.”

Al­bion Falls had five res­cue calls in June in­clud­ing a fa­tal fall by Toronto pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Lane.

There were no res­cues by Sun­day evening over the hol­i­day week­end.

“We would ask every­one to please ex­er­cise the ut­most cau­tion and re­spect the signs and tem­po­rary fenc­ing that have been placed around Al­bion Falls,” Coun. Tom Jack­son said in a state­ment Fri­day. “Our pri­or­ity is to en­sure pub­lic safety.”

Jack­son has said the city needs to take ur­gent mat­ters such as putting up “no tres­pass­ing ”signs al­low­ing by­law and po­lice of­fi­cers to charge wa­ter­fall vis­i­tors who ig­nore the bar­ri­ers and signs.

“Put a po­lice­man there so they can fine them,” agreed Parry. “Give them each a ticket. That will dis­cour­age them.”

Re­cent heavy rain­fall has made the wa­ter­falls par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous and sur­round­ing area slip­pery.

Il­le­gally parked cars im­ped­ing emer­gency ve­hi­cles has also been an is­sue with roughly 650 tick­ets is­sued since mid-April.

BARRY GRAY, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Plas­tic fenc­ing put up at Al­bion Falls was quickly pulled aside.

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