News

Beautification program suffers setback

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

John Wallace of Simcoe, a member of the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise, was disappointed to learn this week that vandals had damaged or destroyed 32 flowering trees the club had planted along the Norfolk Sunrise Trail in Simcoe. Norfolk OPP have been alerted and are interested in hearing from members of the public who might know who is responsible.  MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

John Wallace of Simcoe, a member of the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise, was disappointed to learn this week that vandals had damaged or destroyed 32 flowering trees the club had planted along the Norfolk Sunrise Trail in Simcoe. Norfolk OPP have been alerted and are interested in hearing from members of the public who might know who is responsible. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

SIMCOE - 

Police would like to speak to a number of youths who are suspected of vandalizing dozens of trees along the Norfolk Sunrise Trail in Simcoe this week.

A total of 32 small trees were snapped, bent and broken Monday along the trail between the Queensway East and Wilson Drive. The damage occurred in an area maintained by the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise.

John Wallace, a member of the club’s trail committee, pegs the damage at $3,000.

“That represents a tremendous amount of time, energy and money,” Wallace said Thursday.

The vandalism will not deter the club’s efforts to beautify the trail. The trees damaged and destroyed were red buds and Japanese lilacs.

“It’s most unfortunate, but we’ll replant them,” Wallace said. “We have such a beautiful park system. We’re so lucky. Thankfully, the kind of people who would do something like this are few in number.”

The trail is county property but Norfolk’s community services department co-operates with a number of private partners on improvements.

Norfolk has a lot of experience planting saplings and has learned a thing or two over the years about thwarting vandalism.

Bill Cridland, Norfolk’s general manager of community services, says the county has concluded that it’s worth it in the long run to spend more on bigger trees that aren’t so easily mauled.

“Vandalism is always a concern,” Cridland said. “The smaller the stalk, the more likely it will be vandalized.

“We try to buy a larger calibre tree – something with a three-inch stalk and about eight feet high. We’ve found the bigger the tree, the less likely there will be vandalism.”

Norfolk also knows the places where new plantings will be vandalized and has stopped wasting resources in these areas. The county favours new plantings in well-lit areas that tend to have a high amount of traffic.

Norfolk also seeks “community buy-in” in areas where it wishes to renew the canopy.

Cridland says giving neighbours a say about the varieties of trees planted nearby makes residents more likely to say or do something when they see them abused.

The Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise has been told that a group of young people were seen walking on the trail in Simcoe Monday in the area in question acting in a boisterous manner.

The club has reported the damage to the Norfolk OPP. Anyone with information about the vandalism is encouraged to contact the Norfolk OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers of Haldimand, Norfolk & Tillsonburg at 1-800-222-8477.

Callers to Crime Stoppers who help solve a crime are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com