September 11, 2013 - 8:21 AM
VERNON - A politician is once again calling for more policing at Polson Park.
The green space nestled in the heart of downtown Vernon has been the point of many serious crimes over the years. A body was recently discovered there, and while foul play has been ruled out, a City of Vernon councillor says it's just one more incident contributing to a negative perception of the park. Patrick Nicol would like to see a bigger effort made to help people feel safe in what he calls one of Vernon's greatest gems.
During a semi-annual report by the safe communities unit at City Hall on Monday, Nicol asked why there hasn't been more of a policing presence in Polson Park.
"That was the true idea of community policing... that we would intercept where crime was taking place," he said.
Community policing office coordinator Rachel Zubick said the gates to the park are locked at night.
"We don't go there after hours," she said.
But everyone knows there are still people in the park at night, and Nicol feels policing is greatly needed during those hours.
"What happens when crime takes place in a great downtown like ours, is it spills over into the neighbourhoods," Nicol says.
Several years ago, Nicol asked that the city consider putting a satellite community policing office in Polson Park, but that never happened.
"I always ask about Polson because it's widely known that there are challenges there," Nicol says. "It's such a jewel of a park, and I think safety is what families require. I also empathize with individuals (for whom) Polson Park is the only place to hang their hat, and they're not harming anyone. They deserve to be safe as well."
Families, runners, picknickers and exercise groups frequent the park in the daytime, and a pair of walking buddies say they have had only positive experiences there. Barbara Cragg, a wedding officiant, has married numerous people in the park, and Bonnie Davidson recalls having lunch on the grass as a kid going to Clarence Fulton Secondary before it changed locations. While the space holds only fond memories for them, they say they would never come after dark.
"I want Polson to have a greater sense of safety at all hours," Nicol says. "My wish is for it to be more vibrant."
As the city attempts to attract more families to neighbourhoods in the downtown, Nicol says it's essential to prevent crime from expanding out from the park.
"Through the years there's been many a few incidents in Polson Park, and yet there's so much good that takes place there," Nicol says.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013