‘Zero tolerance’ coming to Albion Falls
Trespassing tickets now being issued
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.
A woman takes a photograph from a perch on the escarpment opposite Albion Falls on Sunday.