If you ig­nore the signs, ex­pect to be fined

Coun­cil­lors sup­port ‘ag­gres­sive’ en­force­ment of tres­pass­ing by­law at Al­bion Falls

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NATALIE PADDON

Tres­passers, be­ware.

City coun­cil­lors want to start fin­ing peo­ple who ven­ture be­yond new bar­ri­ers at Al­bion Falls.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic works com­mit­tee sup­ported a mo­tion from Coun. Sam Merulla Thurs­day, di­rect­ing staff to have po­lice and by­law of­fi­cers ini­ti­ate “ag­gres­sive, proac­tive en­force­ment” at the east Moun­tain water­fall this sum­mer.

“At present, I think be­cause we’re not proac­tively en­forc­ing the by­law, peo­ple are not tak­ing it se­ri­ously,” he told the meet­ing.

The en­force­ment blitz is ex­pected to be­gin after “No Tres­pass­ing” signs are put up on newly in­stalled top-of-gorge fenc­ing.

Some of the fenc­ing has al­ready gone up, and the re­main­der is ex­pected to be in­stalled by the end of this week­end, weather per­mit­ting, said parks man­ager Kara Bunn.

The chain-link fenc­ing, which is ex­pected to cost Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jack­son about $75,000 from his area-rat­ing cash, is one of the new safety mea­sures be­ing im­ple­mented since a Toronto pho­tog­ra­pher lost his foot­ing and plunged to his death at Al­bion Falls last month.

The city is also in­stalling new “pic­to­rial” signs that use sym­bols to en­sure all vis­i­tors un­der­stand the risks of walk­ing to the brink of the 20-me­tre-high gorge as well as ones with maps that show the park­ing lots, view­ing plat-

forms and au­tho­rized Red Hill Val­ley and Bruce Trail side trails.

Thurs­day’s mo­tion di­rects Bunn to re­port back to the com­mit­tee at the end of the sum­mer sea­son, up­dat­ing coun­cil­lors on how many tick­ets were handed out.

Bunn said she sup­ports en­force­ment after the “No Tres­pass­ing” signs have gone up but that she will have to speak to the city’s by­law depart­ment about ex­actly what it will look like.

By­law di­rec­tor Ken Leen­dertse said a fine is­sued by po­lice un­der the Tres­pass to Prop­erty Act is around $150 and about $105 if laid through the city’s parks by­law.

He said the depart­ment will have to re­jig its re­sources to han­dle the en­force­ment be­cause they don’t have the staff ded­i­cated to it right now.

Cur­rently, three or four by­law of­fi­cers would work on a typ­i­cal Sun­day, he added.

At this point, there is no safe route to the bot­tom of Al­bion Falls, said Bunn.

Jack­son told his fel­low coun­cil­lors he will look at fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties like the Fu­ture Fund to con­struct stairs to a safe view­ing plat­form at the bot­tom of the falls — a project that could cost more than $1 mil­lion.

“That would be ideal, but it’s a very large project,” Bunn said.

Jack­son said he is also in­ter­ested in “shock sig­nage” high­light­ing the num­ber of rope rescues and deaths that have taken place there.

So far this year, fire­fight­ers have re­sponded to Al­bion Falls six times for falls or stuck hik­ers.

Other rescues this sum­mer have come at Web­ster’s Falls, the Devil’s Punch Bowl and most re­cently Wed­nes­day at Che­doke Falls.

Stoney Creek Coun. Doug Conley, whose ward con­tains the Devil’s Punch Bowl, said the em­pha­sis should be on Al­bion Falls for now, but he hopes a sim­i­lar plan can be im­ple­mented even­tu­ally at other lo­cal wa­ter­falls.

SCOTT GARD­NER, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Kara Bunn, the city’s man­ager of parks and ceme­ter­ies, shows two of the signs to be posted along the newly in­stalled fence at the top of Mount Al­bion Falls.

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