OPP presence needed deter Head Lake Park’s vandalism

To the Editor:

This week’s report of further vandalism in Head Lake Park (the off-leash dog run) speaks to a policing issue that has yet to be resolved. The yahoos and dimwits who have so easily and wantonly abused our shared recreational spaces do so with impunity. Last September, I wrote a long letter to Dan Collings, the acting staff sergeant (since transferred), voicing concern about the vandalism that had occurred around the bandshell area. An excerpted part of that letter follows:
“As you may recall, I was in touch five or six weeks ago about a weekend concert series that the Highlands Summer Festival presented at the bandshell in Head Lake Park. Prior to that weekend, I and one of the other board members had gone down to the bandshell to do a site inspection and were really alarmed and disgusted at the situation with the metal door that opens into a small utility closet at the back of the stage. The room had been broken into and the door lock destroyed. The concrete slab that the band was going to have to perform on was filthy (cigarette buts, spilled fluids of all kinds, garbage, etc.). It was shortly after that that we learned that someone had broken into the side of the utility room, ripping off the siding to use the closet for accommodation. Remarkable!

I was in Huntsville last week and was shocked at the contrast I saw at the River Mill Park, located just off the main street and adjacent to the river. That park is a pristine bandstand … no carving/graffiti/garbage, etc. I spoke to one of the merchants about this refreshing situation and was told that there had been a problem a couple of years ago, but the police made their presence known on a very regular basis and the troubles stopped.
My experience is I very rarely see police in Haliburton in a pro-active capacity. Is it possible to have an ongoing police presence, perhaps on foot in the village? This would surely cut down or eliminate this malicious disregard for public property and perhaps create a bridge between these disaffected individuals and the community.”

Further to this, I was in touch with the Dysart et al’s treasurer last fall and was told that this municipality’s contribution to Haliburton County’s OPP costs was 2.1 million dollars a year (2021). That’s $5,753.00 each and every day … just for Dysart! Surely with that kind of expenditure, we should be able to have an officer and vehicle stationed here.

Sean Pennylegion
Haliburton, ON

Editor’s note: OPP Haliburton Highlands acting detachment commander Dan Collings is on leave.