- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

In my own litter-picking visits to St. George's Park and Victoria Park, I have seen concerning things.  I've also heard disturbing stories from users of the parks and neighbours that I have verified for myself - people throwing trees down the stairs, misogynist and racist graffiti, needles, cars racing through the park, smashed liquor bottles and cans. All of these reflect on our community, and some put residents at risk.

victoriaparkbarnforeroofBut the biggest concern of neighbours - by far - is the fire risk. Three fire sites are under a wooden overhang at the victoriabarnburntpostback of the barn, and one is out under the trees, using pieces of the former stalls as fuel. The bottom of a post and parts of the roof are charred. Aerosol cans and fireworks are on the site.

Neighbours have called the Fire Department - appropriately - not knowing if it is a bonfire or the building. I have seen the firetruck on site. There have been clothes and bedding on the fence at the top of the hill, and currently a tent and more bedding and belongings are in the area. There is no access to water nor any fire supression. On the high wind days we have had recently, neighbours fear such a fire could spread quickly.

On behalf of those residents who have expressed their concerns, I wrote to the mayor, City Manager, Fire Chief and President of the Owen Sound Agricultural Society which owns the buildings and leases the property from the City.

What actions are being taken to reduce the risk to lives and property?


The Fair Manager for the Owen Sound Agricultural Society, LeeAnne Bell, was the first to respond and was honest and forthright. "I have also had reports from my Directors on the encampment in the trees and the increased fires at the back of the Barn. As you know, we have asked for increased police presence and do feel that we have had that. We have many balls in the air right now regarding funding and finding a contractor to remove the overhang, but rest assured we are working hard at finding solutions."

The City Manager, Tim Simmonds, also replied. "The City and the Agricultural Society have been meeting to discuss a number of matters as they relate to public safety and general site conditions and how to best improve both. When further information is available it will be shared through our communications team."

We will let our readers know as soon as we hear any more, and we, like the Ag Society,  are grateful to Owen Sound Police, Owen Sound Fire and alert citizens for their attention to this area.







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