Sackville councillor Michael Tower says the local RCMP detachment should be doing a better job of ticketing and moving along truck drivers who park overnight next to the town’s water supply.
During Monday’s town council meeting, Tower pressed RCMP Sgt. Paul Gagné to enforce no parking restrictions on the Walker Road off-and on-ramps at Exit 500 on the south side of the Trans Canada Highway.
“It’s a broken record for me, you’re probably tired of hearing it,” Tower told Gagné, “[but] if anything ever happened for this town, that’s our water supply.”
Tower added that as he was on his way to Amherst early one morning last week, he noticed an Irving truck hauling two oil tankers parked along the Walker Road highway on-ramp in spite of the four no parking signs that the province has installed there.
He said that it would have been disastrous if the tankers had leaked.
“I would think the water supply risk is pretty high if we have vehicles like that there,” he added, “and I think it would be a priority, not as much as an armed robbery, but at the same time, if it leaked, it would be bigger than an armed robbery and if the RCMP aren’t going to discourage people, then who’s going to do it?”
Tower said the extra bylaw enforcement officers the town hired during the summer found nine trucks parked illegally overnight along the Walker Road on-ramp in the space of one month.
Sgt. Gagné acknowledged that an oil spill would be serious, just as an armed robbery would be.
“Except the difference is, being as an armed robbery is totally 100 per cent my job, right, but a spill isn’t,” Gagné said, adding that for the RCMP, parking violations are not a top priority.
“If I have to pick and choose what we’re doing, I promise you, you want me looking into sexual assaults, domestic violence…mental health investigations; other things are more important than that [parking violations].”
Tower replied that since the RCMP are on night patrols anyway, officers could make checking for trucks parked overnight along the highway on-ramp part of their routine.
“If nobody’s there, they can keep on going,” he said. “The RCMP aren’t doing their job to protect us.”
Tower said he has raised the issue a number of times in closed-door sessions with the RCMP.
Town Council decided to hold RCMP briefings in public beginning last month after Warktimes questioned why the regular monthly sessions with police were being held in-camera.
Tower said he was pleased that at the end of his exchange with Gagné, Mayor Higham suggested to the sergeant that he report back to council on the issue of illegal truck parking near the town’s water supply.
“When you have staff that are going out on the highway, if they could come down that way and take a peek and let us know what kind of numbers you’re seeing, that would be helpful for us to understand,” Higham told Gagné.
“We’ve also got an opportunity I think to talk to the province about what other enforcement mechanisms that we have for that watershed,” the mayor added.