Those who have stuck around say they have to endure parties every week, broken beer bottles and loud music at all hours.
“We do call the police, but if the cops are going to come knock on our door right after they go talk to the students, of course they’re going to know it’s us calling,” said one resident who’s lived in the neighbourhood east of Fanshawe College since 1997.
“We’ve had our car egged a few times,” her husband said.
Fuelled by partying that started before noon under sunny skies on St. Patrick’s Day, a mob of 1,000 Fanshawe College students and others went wild on Fleming Dr., torching a TV news truck and pelting police officers and vehicles with bottles, pieces of wood and rocks.
The next morning, shards of glass still littered the streets, a charred stretch of asphalt remained where the SUV lay burning upside down only hours earlier, and one young child went from person to person asking whether they had any beer bottles he could have.
“I’m afraid to let my child learn to ride his bike on this street because if he falls, he’ll fall into a pile of glass, and that’s a regular thing,” said the resident who’s lived there since 1997.
“Or kids who don’t necessarily keep the speed limit on the road,” she added. Her husband said they would move out as soon as they paid off their mortgage.
Still, she said things used to be worse.
“The first year I was here they had like 2,000 people show up for a house party in the townhouses. After that, the COR (community-oriented response) unit’s presence was more known . . . and a lot of the families started moving out.”
By one resident’s account, only five families remain on a cul-de-sac off of Fleming Dr. with about two dozen homes.
“Most of the families moved out because police and the school weren’t doing anything,” said a homeowner identifying herself only as Pauline.
She said her family has urged her to leave the neighbourhood for years. Pauline said she’s seen robberies on multiple occasions but has learned not to say anything.
“I don’t want to move, it’s close to (my work),” she said.
One man brought his 16-year-old daughter to see the damage on Sunday. He hoped to talk her out of a career as a police officer after his wife, a police dispatcher, called it “the worst day she’s had to work in 33 years.”
“She wants to be a policewoman . . . I brought her back here to see what the police go through. This is what you have to put up with. You don’t want to do this,” Jeff Dodds said. But not everyone is as concerned.
“I put my kids to bed at 8:30 at night and they don’t have any problem sleeping,” said Bob Phillips, who lives on Prosperity Court with his seven- and four-year-old boys. “To me, it’s always well-exaggerated,” he said.
Written by Eric Clement. Published in The London Free Press, March 19, 2012.