Christine Drive residents are fed up with the dangerous driving, excessive garbage, noise and general disrespect plaguing their street.
The dead-end drive, which leads to the back of St. Theresa’s Catholic High School, has been subject to a multitude of ongoing problems over the past few years, according to those who live along the street.
Phil Kidd, his wife, mother and two dogs live in a house on the corner next to the school’s back parking lot. Ever since the student smoking pit was relocated to the back of the building, they’ve had to deal with a large group of students on the sidewalk and street near their home.
Students aren’t allowed to smoke on school property, so the large group of kids wanting to light up is forced onto public property. They gather in hordes directly across from Kidd’s home.
“There has got to be approximately 75 kids out here in the morning and afternoon,” said Kidd. “They stand here and swear and spit. They are speeding out of here. There is smoke in plumes, and the garbage is the worst.”
A quick walk around the area and you will find broken glass, lighters, bottle caps, errant shoes, and thousands of cigarette butts strewn among other garbage.
Two garbage cans in the area are empty.
“We are getting a ton of seagulls and raccoons around here because the students are just tossing their lunches around,” said Kidd.
Tucked in the bushes across from the side of the Kidd’s property are two hangout areas with bottles, broken chairs, torn up St. Theresa’s school uniforms, garbage, smashed bongs and other drug paraphernalia.
“I caught some kids ready to throw beer bottles full of gasoline in the bushes,” said Kidd.
He and his wife say they’ve had countless meetings with school board officials, the principal, vice-principal, police and Ministry of Health representatives.
“This is ongoing and nothing has changed,” said Kidd. “We are just trying to get them to be good neighbours.”
School officials say they are aware of their neighbours’ concerns and that they strive to keep the school grounds as clean as they can.
“St. Theresa’s does work to keep the areas surrounding our school clean through weekly cleanups, announcements and liaising with city officials and bylaw enforcement,” said Pauline Stevenson, communications manager for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
“Our facility is a busy site — with students, parents, visitors and user groups — making it difficult to always keep the grounds in the pristine condition we all would desire. It is our goal to keep the grounds as clean as possible, and we will continue to work with our neighbours and other members of the community to do just that,” added Stevenson, noting she discussed the concerns with St. Theresa’s principal, Bern Tate.
By far the most concerning issue for residents along Christine Drive is the speeding. Around half a dozen neighbours say they have witnessed cars leaving the school at excessive speeds.
“They are coming around the corner sideways,” said Kidd.
“I figure they are going at least 80 km/h past my place,” said Fred Axt, who lives a few doors down the street.
One neighbour complained about a car that came around the corner so fast it lost control and crashed into a decorative rock on their front lawn.
“People are afraid for their kids and grandkids or backing out of their driveways,” said Axt. “I have grandkids at my house all of the time. We teach them not to run out on the street, but kids are kids, and if a ball goes out there, they’ll go after it.”
James Coady, who used to live at the far end of Christine Drive, is one of several residents who have complained to both the Midland Police and OPP about cars leaving the school parking lot and travelling down the street at excessive speeds.
“I understand police have a job to do, and it is not the easiest job … but all they have to do is set an example. If they catch one kid doing 90 km/h down that road, word will get around really quickly, and they will slow down before someone gets killed,” said Coady.
School officials say they are aware and understand all of their neighbours’ concerns.
“We take these concerns seriously and recognize that there is always room for improvement. As always, we will continue to work with our neighbours and other members of the community to address concerns as they arise,” said Stevenson.
The situation has frustrated several neighbours so much they’ve sold their homes and moved. If something isn’t done to address the current issues soon, other neighbours say they may follow.
“Why is nothing being done? Is the town and the police going to wait until someone is injured or killed before something is done about this?” asked Axt.