‘Zero tol­er­ance’ com­ing to Al­bion Falls

Tres­pass­ing tick­ets now be­ing is­sued

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DON­GEN

It’s ticket time for tres­passers at Al­bion Falls.

Hun­dreds of vis­i­tors to the east Moun­tain wa­ter­fall ig­nored tres­pass­ing warn­ings and squeezed be­yond newly erected fences on the week­end without be­ing tick­eted.

But that grace pe­riod — which prompted fu­ri­ous re­ac­tion from some coun­cil­lors — is now over, said mu­nic­i­pal law en­force­ment man­ager Kim Coombs.

“Our en­force­ment pro­to­col is now in place and it is zero tol­er­ance,” said Coombs, adding by­law of­fi­cers re­ceived on-site train­ing Mon­day and is­sued the first $126 ticket un­der the parks by­law since signs were posted.

By­law of­fi­cers will now visit the falls reg­u­larly dur­ing the week — Coombs is strate­gi­cally re­fus­ing to say when, or how of­ten — as well as on week­ends. “If you go be­yond the posted signs and fence line, you can ex­pect a ticket,” she said.

The crack­down should have started im­me­di­ately, said Coun. Sam Merulla, who au­thored the coun­cil mo­tion last week call­ing for “ag­gres­sive proac­tive en­force­ment.”

Merulla talked to se­nior city of­fi­cials Mon­day about what he called an “ap­palling fail­ure of en­force­ment” on the week­end, but later gave credit to plan­ning head Ja­son Thorne for re­act­ing quickly to coun­cil con­cerns. “Bet­ter a lit­tle late than never,” he said.

East Moun­tain Coun. Tom Jackson — who spent 90 min­utes redi­rect­ing would-be fence-hop­pers Sun­day — said he’s sat­is­fied with the new plan.

He added he was “en­cour­aged” to see at least some wa­ter­fall vis­i­tors Sun­day re­spect the new signs and head to the of­fi­cial look­outs in­stead of down the slope.

A Spec­ta­tor reporter watched dozens of peo­ple ei­ther climb or squeeze around the new fence Satur­day to fol­low a pop­u­lar beaten path to the bot­tom of the falls.

Many also walked around the rim of the gorge and stepped over a red con­struc­tion fence to take selfie photos from the edge of Lover’s Leap, a sheer drop over­look­ing the falls. A few even scram­bled down

that cliff to the creek gorge be­low.

The city has spent $75,000 and count­ing to erect new fenc­ing and add signs to try to stop a rash of fall­ing in­juries this sum­mer. One per­son died in June af­ter plum­met­ing into the gorge while tak­ing a photo.

Hamil­ton po­lice were called to Al­bion Falls eight times over the week­end be­cause of re­ports about al­leged tres­passers, said spokesper­son Const. Jerome Ste­wart.

Ste­wart said of­fi­cers have the dis­cre­tion

to write tick­ets or “ed­u­cate” as the sit­u­a­tion dic­tates, adding the city’s by­law de­part­ment will “take the lead” on en­force­ment. “We will be in a sup­port­ive role,” Ste­wart said.

He added the ex­ist­ing po­lice Sum­mer Safe plain­clothes pa­trol pro­gram of city parks will also in­clude Al­bion Falls.

Fenc­ing and sig­nage in­stalled around the top of Al­bion Falls.

JOHN REN­NI­SON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

A woman takes a pho­to­graph from a perch on the es­carp­ment op­po­site Al­bion Falls on Sun­day.

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