“It’s been an ongoing problem, for quite a while,” Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski, says the litter and petty vandalism continues to be a problem at the west parking lot of Jessie Lake (across from École Notre Dame High School & the Catholic Church). Sobolewski says he has been trying to fight this issue for some time, with no avail.
“I remember when I was first elected as mayor, this was one of the things that I was upset about, in terms of the park itself. There’s a lot of trailers that go down there. We have a beautiful trail, it’s very high used, then we have this parking area where all sorts of activities are happening; whether [the activities are] legal or illegal, it seems to be a gathering place.” The mayor explains that he is fine with the parking lot serving as a rendezvous, “however, as a result of the gatherings, there are pigs that will have their meals… they’ll enjoy it, watching the geese, wrap it all up and throw [wrappers and garbage] out the window. The garbage can is another ten feet away, all they have to do is get out of their vehicle and walk over there.” Mayor Sobolewski says he’s witnessed this behaviour firsthand.
Residents are fed up, says the mayor, “we’ve had a number of people, graciously, thanks to the sense of community, clean up after these individuals.” Along with residents, the Town has employed staff members to regularly clean the parking lot. Sobolewski says as soon as they are able to get it clean, the parking lot is full of litter again.
“When I was first elected the Town looked at some very stringent guidelines. The Council at that time, wasn’t very accepting of going to the extremes of ticketing, targeting and all the rest; setting up video camera,” that may change with the election nearing, says Sobolewski, “however, the issue is coming back. It’s been four years and the same issues are occurring.”
Sobolewski wants to be clear that even with the parking lot’s proximity to the school, he does not believe it is only school kids/teens that are contributing to the litter, “there are people of all ages at different times.” Joking, “the seagulls don’t mind because they are getting their meals.”
“Beware folks, it is coming to the police committee, there are a number of Councillors that are really upset with what’s going on; including myself.” Mayor Sobolewski hopes to see some real resolution to these problems, “we hate it that a few people, as a result of their stupidity, are going to be the cause of some increased regulation; some increased monitoring, ticketing and/or maybe restricted use of that area. I hate to go down that road, but what do we do?”