Thunder Bay's 'black path' troubles residents
People who use the County Park trail want local officials to take action
Many people in Thunder Bay say they're worried about safety around a County Park trail after two teen girls were assaulted in the area last week.
In 2010, a teen girl was killed in the vicinity.
The trail is a popular shortcut for people living in the area or visiting friends and family. Residents say people are often drunk in the wooded area and muggings and violence are common. But most incidents are not publicized.
Sherry Boyce, who lives near the trail, said she doesn't think police know about all the violence that happens there.
"I see a lot of things," she said. "Almost like every day."
For people like Destiny King, who sometimes uses the trail behind the Landmark Inn as a shortcut to visit her cousin, it can be scary to walk on what's known to many as the Black Path.
King, 14, said she feels afraid to use the trail as early as 6 or 7 p.m.
"Sometimes I start running because … it feels like there's someone in there," she said. "I start panicking."
'Heads in the sand'
Gerry Leaman said he tells his son not to use the path when it starts getting dark, but his son doesn't always listen.
"He's been mugged three times in the last four or five years," he said.
Thunder Bay police said they don't get a high number of calls coming from the area, but Leaman remarked that doesn't mean the crimes aren't happening.
"The kids don't want to report it because they got pressure," Leaman said. "(Because) next time they come around, they might get even beat up more."
For its part, the city of Thunder Bay said it is working to improve safety on the trail in County Park.
Parks manager Paul Fayrik noted staff have cleared brush and widened the path. He said the city recently applied for government infrastructure funding to install lighting, as it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to light the whole path.
Leaman said if authorities don't consider the County Park path to be a serious problem because they're not getting formal complaints, "they're burying their heads in the sand."
"It's a well-known fact kids tend not to run to the police," he said.