Visitors ignoring signs, so city blocks Albion Falls paths
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.
Plastic fencing put up at Albion Falls was quickly pulled aside.