Hawkesbury now has a safe place to exchange goods bought and sold online through sites like Kijiji, ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and even good old newspaper classifieds.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has created Project Safe Trade and established a Safe Trade Zone at the OPP detachment parking lot at the corner of Cameron and Amoco Streets, where buyers and sellers can meet to exchange items and complete transactions.  Two parking spaces with special bilingual signage designate the zone.

Creating a Safe Trade Zone is about moving online transactions away from secluded parking lots, personal residences or other areas and bringing them to a public place.

“You don’t know who’s coming to your house,” said Constable Mario Gratton, who is the Community Service Officer for the Hawkesbury OPP detachment.

Unfortunately, there have been examples in other communities where the exchange of items or payment for online sales ended tragically.

“It’s better to go to a public parking lot, a public place,” Gratton said.

The OPP also sees the Safe Trade Zones as a way of reducing the sale of stolen goods.

There are two Safe Trade Zones at the front of the Hawkesbury detachment building.  The spaces are well-lit, and available at all times with no appointment necessary. However, the OPP does not monitor or mediate the use of the spaces.

Online transaction safety tips from the OPP include:

  • Meet in a busy public place
  • Bring a trusted friend or family member along as a witness
  • Keep transactions during to daylight hours
  • Do not erase emails, texts or voicemails between yourself and the seller/buyer

The Safe Trade Zones at the Hawkesbury OPP detachment were unveiled to raise awareness in time for Crime Prevention Week, which is from November 1 to 7.

Safe Trade Zone sign. Photo: James Morgan