Jul. 24, 01:05 EDT
Police start patrols of beach strip and roads
Natalie Alcoba The Hamilton Spectator
Along the beach and on the water. We all flock there in summer.
And starting tomorrow, the police will too.
Officers from Hamilton, Halton and the OPP will take part in Operation Summer Safe 2004, a program aimed at increasing awareness and promoting safety on the roads and waterways of the beach strip.
The program runs until Aug. 22.
In Hamilton, periodic traffic stop stations will be set up in the area between the lift bridge and the Fifty Point Conservation Area, checking for fastened seatbelts and other driving infractions.
The marine unit will patrol the waters, stopping and sometimes boarding vessels to make sure life vests are on and operators aren't impaired.
"The emphasis is more along the lines of promoting safety," said Constable Shane Salvi, who co-ordinates the program. "Charges may and will be laid but we're not going out with the sole purpose of handing out tickets."
Salvi said there has been a marked increase in compliance rates since the program began 12 years ago.
Business owners in the area welcome the added layer of police protection.
"We feel a little bit more secure with the presence of the police force," said Joe Tsangarakis, owner of Barangas on the Beach on Van Wagners Beach Road. He said there used to be problems with teenagers lighting fires on the beach and vandalism.
It has cleaned up a lot now. That's largely due to more co-operation between area businesses and increased private security, said Tsangarakis.
The main parking lot at Confederation Park is known for attracting young drivers eager to show off their souped-up cars. Large groups of youth often flood the lot. "I think it's the hot weather that makes them run a little bit wild," said Tsangarakis.
Last year, speed bumps were put in the lot.
"That creates a barrier for anybody who wants to show off with speeding with his vehicle," he said.