Efforts to curb illegal parking along Chemin de la Rivière Rouge are working, according to the Director-General for the Municipality of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.  Marc Beaulieu said “about 20” tickets have been handed out by officers working for Garda, the private security company the municipality hired in July to enforce the parking by-law along the road by the river.  Garda has been patrolling the area since the weekend of July 21-22.

Garda security guards are not police officers and do not have any direct law enforcement authority.  When they issue a ticket in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, it is actually a written warning to the vehicle owner that they are illegally parked.  The warning is then filed with the municipal court and a summons is issued to the vehicle owner along with a $50 fine.

Beaulieu said the effect of having Garda personnel present does a lot to deter people from parking illegally along the river, even if tickets aren’t issued.  He said that recreation seekers along riverbanks or in the woods often run out to the road to move their cars to  avoid getting a ticket once the word travels around that the Garda car is nearby.

The main idea behind the municipality hiring Garda was traffic and parking safety, but Beaulieu said staff at the public park at Chutes des sept-soeurs have told him they are seeing more visitors who have chosen to go there to enjoy the Rouge River instead of taking the risk of parking illegally on Chemin de la Rivière Rouge.  The park is municipally-owned but administered by a not-for-profit organization that has two council members on the board.

Beaulieu said using the park is also a safer choice for tourists than using the more remote sections of the often-dangerous river, especially after a series of drownings on the river this summer.  Most recently, a 20-year-old man disappeared into the river in Huberdeau on July 30.  A body was retrieved from the Rouge in Harrington on August 3 and the Sûreté du Québec was checking to see if it was the body of the man.

Complaints on the Grenville-sur-la-Rouge news Facebook page about the traffic and parking situation along the Rouge River have subsided during the past couple of weeks.  The page is not operated by the municipality, but many residents had been commenting about illegal parking and campers along the riverbanks.