There may not be just one simple solution to combat the use of the old Darling rendering plant in Southeast Chatham by a criminal element, but some kind of solution is needed.
Concerns have been raised by business owners in the area regarding the continuous theft of copper piping and copper wire, and the use of an old incinerator at the rendering plant to burn any plastic insulation off the copper wire before trying to sell it to a scrapyard.
Local police say the site is also one where homeless people will go to light a fire to keep warm or heat up food.
Although police try to keep an eye on the property, they can’t be there 24/7.
There are multiple concerns with the property, mainly its accessibility to vagrants, criminals and curious thrill-seekers who go there to photograph and/or climb the two smoke stacks that are several hundred feet tall.
In YouTube videos from recent years, people are shown climbing the rickety metal ladders on the sides of the smoke stacks, and standing on the very top on screens that are decades old. That practice is not only dangerous, it seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
The owners of the property, while they may not be aware of how it is being used, should be contacted and encouraged to put up some kind of fencing or barrier to keep everyone out.
Not only will it be safer, it will take away a secluded spot the criminal element is counting on to prep and store stolen property.
If there isn’t a property standards bylaw that requires a property owner to keep people away from an unsafe area, there should be.
It has been said many times, you can’t legislate stupidity, but there appears to be a need here to protect the curious and the criminal from themselves.
The old facility is a crumbling mess. Most of us would look at the rusting ladders on the sides of the smokestacks, shake our heads and move on. But others look at it as a challenge of sorts.
As for living there, that is a desperate notion. It is a long-abandoned facility in the middle of a wooded area. Get hurt there and it could be some time before someone comes to your aid.