To the Editor:
I have been closely following the fundraising campaign for the new play structure for W.E. Gowling School for some time. Now that you have raised the money, you should know what your play structure is being used for at night and on the weekends.
I live beside the school. The old play structure is about 20 ft. from my back porch and I can see and hear everything that goes on in the schoolyard from my backyard.
On some nights in the summer time, it's a favorite place for drinkers. They stay very quiet because it is usually late at night and they don't want the police to roust them. I caught five creepy looking guys smashing bottles out of my blue box at 1:30 in the morning last May. Two of them were under-aged.
On Sunday afternoons from spring to fall a large group of men show up for a pick-up game of ball hockey. I've seen them park so their cars block the entrance to the schoolyard. Sometimes they shout and swear at each other, sometimes they hoot and holler, and sometimes they cheer. Good for them. But I have also noticed that during those six hours every Sunday, there's not one child or family playing in the schoolyard. There are no basketball players and no skateboarders.
I found the presence of these men who drove here from other neighbourhoods to shatter the peace and quiet of my Sunday to be quite disturbing. I called the Noise Complaint people. The police officer said I should go back to them with a made up story about how I had a sick aunt upstairs and to tell them to go some place else. I explained that I had already asked them to leave and that they told me to get stuffed, basically. The ball hockey players told me to go ahead and call the police, they wouldn't come anyway–and they were right. The police didn't come.
When I contacted the principal, he hinted that they were finding “things” in and around the play structure in the mornings. He also said the equipment shed is routinely broken into. He could not help me with the ball hockey players. Apparently, closing the gates is contrary to the fire safety laws.
When I tried to call the Westgate Community Police Services office on Monday, I was bounced around four or five times. I finally gave up in frustration and decided I'd just have to turn the other cheek.
With these facts in mind and with the recent attack on a child in the 300 block of Anna Ave., maybe it's time for a stronger police presence on this street and around this neighbourhood. There have been several acts of vandalism and car theft around here in the past few years. Maybe some of that could be avoided if the police just patrolled around here at night more often.
Neighbourhood Watch and Block Parent programs would be well suited to this gem of a neighbourhood. There are several retirees in this neighbourhood who are home during the day with grandchildren of their own who might be interested in becoming Block Parents.
I am a lone voice so far regarding these problems, but then again, they do not affect me personally. I don't utilize the play structure, I don't cut through W.E. Gowling to get to Merivale Road past sunset, the drinkers are very quiet and the ball hockey players moved last year to play in front of the school. I just think it would be a shame to have a brand new beautiful play structure sitting empty half the weekend.