Area Coun. Grant Nordman is lighting up drugs in Costello Park — and area residents couldn’t be happier.
On Sept. 5, the city’s Assiniboia community committee approved $25,000 for a pathway lighting project for the park, which is tucked away in a small suburban enclave near John Taylor Collegiate and Unicity.
"We’re going to light the hell out of it," Nordman said, with colleagues Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) and Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) unanimously approving the funding.
Following the meeting at city hall, Nordman acknowledged drug deals are commonplace around the ward, noting his office frequently receives calls from constituents on the issue.
"It takes a lot of bricks in the wall to solve a problem," he said.
"It’s almost impossible to get rid of (the drug trade). All you can do is make it uncomfortable for the bad guys to do their business.
"We’re not getting rid of the problem in general, but that locale. We’ll see if a little more candle power there will do this."
The lights are expected to be installed before winter, Nordman said.
Nearby residents are calling the move long overdue.
Costello Park, which underwent a major playground renovation this summer, suffered as a result of years of neglect that residents say encouraged illicit activity to blossom during the last three years.
There are no lights in the park and much of the activity takes place in corners of the park along neighbouring properties protected by fences and bushes.
One resident said he has seen drug deals take place morning, noon and night, and it has been common to find syringes and drug paraphernalia littering the corners of the park.
"They’re getting so blatant with it," said the man, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 1973, and didn’t want his name published. "Now, they’re sitting in the new play structures."
The new playground has been a boon for the area, the man noted, but some families are already choosing to stay away.
"As a neighbourhood we’re going through renewal," the man said.
"(But) as more families see these dealers dealing in front of them, they’re going to stop coming."
Some residents have been apprehensive about calling the police about the problem, one resident said, believing it might be too low a priority for police to warrant a proper response.
"By the time (the police) get there, the kids will be gone," said the woman, who also didn’t want her name published.
Nordman encouraged families to use strength in numbers to reclaim the park so the renovations don’t go to waste.
"If the park’s more appealing, it’s more attractive to neighbours nearby to say ‘Yes, we want to use this,’" he said.
"And obviously people dealing drugs don’t want attention drawn to them."