Bylaw presence cleaning up Creekside
Increasing municipal bylaw patrols and giving Whistler's nuisance bylaw more teeth is cutting down on youths loitering in the village, but the problem may be moving south to Whistler Creek.
After numerous requests from Creekside businesses, residents and employees, the municipal bylaw department has implemented a $9,500 program to step up Creekside foot patrols. It's part of an effort to quell a rise in vandalism, raucous parties and offensive group behaviour, says Calvin Logue, municipal bylaw enforcement supervisor.
"We've known for some time that the Creek has a growing problem," Logue says. "The village is our number one priority, but the residents and visitors of the Creek often felt their safety was in jeopardy."
The increased presence of bylaw officers over the past two weeks has shown a "marked decrease in youth activity," Logue says.
The most visible activity at Creekside comes from a loose-knit group of youths who call themselves the Creekside Mob. They are believed to have been involved in burglaries and graffiti painting.
Logue says the Creekside Mob is far from being a gang. Rather, it is a "group of young men trying to establish themselves."
"We know who they are and they're just a group trying to hang the gang label on themselves, but they aren't really a gang," Logue says. The Creekside Mob seems to identify with the snowboarder subculture, but the problem seems to exist more with the group mentality than snowboarding.
According to Kirk Aulin, president of the Whistler Creek Merchant's Association, much of the problem stems from the amount of high-density housing in Whistler Creek, allowing large groups of youths to live in one place, relatively inexpensively. One unit in Gondola Village was reported to have 18 people living in it.
"These are young people, often living in crowded conditions, with not a lot to do," Aulin says. "If you get a group of kids together things will often happen that wouldn't happen on an individual basis."
Aulin says rather than let the problem get out of hand the merchant's association has asked the bylaw department for proactive foot patrols, to help Creekside merchants and "customers feel that it is safe to come into this area."
In the meantime, Aulin says it is important to not only crack down on group activity in the Creek, but look at solutions to the problems.
"It must be hard being a young person in Whistler," he says. "If we can work with the kids we might be able to do something together to make sure the problems aren't created by boredom."