Vandalism at dog park forces temporary closure

By Darren Lum
It was less than 24-hours since the damage was committed to the dog park in Head Lake Park before it was reopened, but that was enough to raise concerns about how to discourage such future behaviour.
The report of the damage and subsequent closure of the dog park was posted on the Municipality of Dysart et al’s Facebook page on July 6. Later that day the dog park was reopened.

Dysart CAO Tamara Wilbee wrote in an email the entrance gate hinges and its clasps, which holds the fence in place, were damaged. Also, the service door had its latch damaged and will need to be replaced. The cost for replacement is not known at this time, she added.
Installing cameras is one idea for prevention, but it comes with a complication.
“We’ve done a lot of work with cameras in different areas of the park over the past couple of years, but we also need to be very careful to stay within the scope of video surveillance policies [of the township] to ensure compliance with privacy legislation. We had to install and expand Wi-Fi services and install cameras where there are power supplies in the park, so it’s somewhat limiting. We are currently working on getting footage from the park cameras for these recent events though and have followed up with reports to the OPP. We’ve also had a lot more graffiti in the last few days on both sides of the park and at Rails End [Gallery],” she wrote in an email last week.
The Facebook posting also reported the “Woofie Station” sign by Head Lake and other signs were damaged.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said she was shocked by the vandalism.
“I thought people were upset about the gate because we are going to do work there, pouring a cement pad to help make it easier to keep clear in the winter,” she wrote in an email, referring to scheduled upgrading work, which will be completed in the next few weeks dependent on equipment rental availability.
“I was absolutely horrified, sad and discouraged to hear of the vandalism. We, staff and Dysart council, do so much to make all our parks a safe and welcoming place. We invest time and money only to have people wilfully damage public property. The dog park is so well used.”
Roberts said surveillance is not the answer.
“We do have some cameras around but that is not the answer. Clearly, there are some people around town with nothing better to do than wreck things for others. The solution is not a simple one,” she wrote.
Report any vandalism to the OPP’s non-emergency line at 1-888-310-1122.