Residents in Lakeshore are frustrated and are growing concerned about recent vandalism at Ruscom Shores Conservation Area near St. Joachim, Ont.
Neighbours on Surf Club Drive said several vehicles could be seen and heard causing a disturbance near the parking lot on Friday evening.
“The parking lot is always a draw for nefarious activities, especially after dark,” said Noel Brockman, whose backyard overlooks the natural area. “It’s a shame that these kids are doing it. I wished I could catch them and I could talk to their parents and just show them what their kids are doing.”
Ruscom Shores Conservation Area is situated alongside Lake St. Clair and is an attractive 120 acre natural marshland area with a well-managed trail — ideal for outdoor enjoyment and tranquillity.
Brockman said vandalism has been an ongoing issue around springtime for years, and believes this most recent event to be the worst instance yet.
He explained, “It’s a conservation area. It’s not supposed to be conserved for kids who are looking to have a good time in a car. It’s for people and for the animals around here to enjoy it.”
Damage at Ruscom Shores Conservation Area on Surf Club Drive near St. Joachim, Ont. is seen on Feb. 5, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor) Officials have since closed the gates to the area near the road, restricting vehicular traffic for the time being.
“They go back there and start doing donuts and ripping up the entire yard,” Brockman said. “It really upsets me, so there’s times I’ve gone back there and confront them when I can, but often they’ll escape before I get a chance to get the police in there, and I’m sure they’re just kids thinking they’re having fun, but they don’t realize the damage that they’re doing.”
Essex County OPP said they responded to reports of three to four vehicles doing donuts Friday evening, and encourage anyone with information to call police and not confront individuals themselves.
“Unfortunately we have no description of those vehicles,” said Const. Steven Duguay. “This is something that if you see it happening give us a call. Try to get a description or a plate. But don’t put yourself in harm’s way to try to get that information. It’s not worth it.”
Duguay added, “These happen in isolated areas where we’re not always on patrol. We know people do live in that area. If you hear anything again, just give us a call.”
“It’s quite saddening,” said Essex Region Conservation Authority CAO Tim Byrne, who said repairs would be made in the spring when winter weather wears off.
“Under the Conservation Authorities Act, someone who’s committing that type of vandalism, there’s opportunity for us to proceed with prosecutions and significant fines,” Byrne explained.
Damage at Ruscom Shores Conservation Area on Surf Club Drive near St. Joachim, Ont. is seen on Feb. 5, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor) “We’re going to be working with the neighbors and the municipality and Lakeshore OPP.”
He added, “We’re going to change the operation protocols out there as well as far as closing the gate and all that type of thing and have to keep a closer eye on those properties.”
Byrne told CTV News Windsor officials are hoping to establish an enhanced park watch along with arranging for residents on Surf Club Drive to manage the gate at dusk and dawn.
“We’re going to be looking at a protocol where we have you know, again, establish park watch with the neighbors out there and give them the responsibility of closing the gate and opening the gate in the morning. And some of the neighbors have come forward with a willingness to work with us on that,” he said.
Byrne added, “We encourage people to go out and recreate in our facilities but it doesn’t include doing donuts and spinning out on the grass. It’s idiotic that someone would think that that is either acceptable or define that as fun.”