The model steam engine donated to Jasper by John Forabosco was recently installed at its new location next to the old fire hall, and we must say it looks quite good there. It was an instant hit with passersby, too. Within hours of the installation numerous children were drawn to the eye-catching engine, crawling in and around and all over it, as was intended.
It’s attention of a different kind, however, that has raised concerns about the engine’s location at that particular patch of grass next to the Jasper Artists Guild’s Brushfire Gallery.
As the Fitzhugh reports today, the location was of particular concern to one area resident who already has to deal with regular, noisy intrusions by rowdy partiers making their ways home from the town’s various bars late at night. She worries the train will catch the eye of these perennial pests and cause them to linger even longer outside her home while she tries to sleep. That is certainly a valid concern, as is another that was raised at last week’s council meeting, namely the the potential for vandalism of the model engine at the hands of these same late-night louts.
We appreciate how difficult it must be to live on a street that is routinely populated by these types of inconsiderate, intoxicated individuals. We, too, worry that these people, in their drunken states, will inadvertently or deliberately damage the model engine that Mr. Forabosco was kind enough to share with the community. But that’s no reason to prevent the engine from being placed in this spot.
We think council found the right balance when it decided to stick with the current location but promised to review the decision at six-month intervals.
Late-night noise on this section of Patricia Street has been an issue in Jasper for years. The route is a bit of a bottleneck for people leaving area bars and heading home. Invariably this leads to some of the things you get when you mix large groups of people with large amounts alcohol, ranging from noise at least to violence at worst.
The presence of another piece of outdoor art, in addition to the existing Jasper the Bear statue, may encourage some individuals to spend an extra few minutes lingering in this area on their way home from the bars. It will probably prompt some to climb up on the model engine, too, just like kids have been doing during the daytime. And, unfortunately, it could very well become a target for some of the duller drunks to take out their violent urges.
Hopefully Jasper’s late-night revellers will be more respectful than that, but realistically there will likely be some incidents. If after six months these incidents prove to be too numerous or too severe, council ought to act. But simply moving the model engine will not be the best solution, as that would only address a symptom of the problem, not the cause.
With or without the model engine at that location, the drunks will still be making noise on Patricia Street and there will still be plenty of other targets for vandalism. In response, Jasper needs to look at ideas that have been floated before, but might now need to be considered again, ranging from surveillance cameras to increased police patrols, to the establishment of a neighbourhood watch group. These and other ideas merit some further debate and if the added presence of the model engine helps spur the discussion, then it will have brought two distinct benefits to Jasper.