The rocky start continues for London’s sesquicentennial pavilion in Harris Park.
The new bandshell, which came in under budget at $672,000, has received a fair share of negative attention since it was unveiled in time for London’s Canada 150 celebrations.
First, it was criticized for its design, then it was used to house porta potties during Rock the Park, now it is receiving 24/7 security after the bandshell and nearby artwork were vandalized and defaced with graffiti a few weeks ago.
Commissionaires have been spotted at the pavilion around the clock the past few weeks, an uncommon sight at city landmarks.
Aside from a brief statement from Dave O’Brien, London’s division manager for corporate security, city officials have declined to comment on the situation.
“The city uses security for a range of reasons including protection of the public and protection of City assets. Security measures are deployed based a needs assessment. We do not provide details of ongoing security operations,” said O’Brien.
It’s not known how much the 24-hour security surveillance is costing taxpayers or how long it’s expected to continue.
City officials haven’t commented, but it’s believed it will cost the city $20,000 to repair the graffiti spray painted on the artwork and the pavilion.
The around the clock surveillance has ward six councillor Phil Squire scratching his head.
“You’d have to ask them (city administration) why they chose to do it with this one facility. I just don’t see it as a long-term or permanent solution and I’m not sure it’s the best allocation of tax dollars that we can make,” he said.
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Squire questions whether posting a security guard at Harris Park will effectively deal with the problem.
“It’s not a solution to the problem. If you’ve got problems with vandalism in the city of London, I think you’ve got to take an overall approach, you’ve got to say why vandalism happening, how can we prevent it. Police presence, increased bylaw officer presence may be options but putting one person in one location just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.
The Canada 150 Pavilion replaced the old gazebo-style building that was in place in Harris Park but has fallen flat with concert organizers.
It wasn’t used for musical acts by organizers for Rock the Park or Bluesfest.