While cautioning against fear mongering, county OPP Commander Scott Smith says an anti-fortification bylaw is a vital tool to deter some of Guelph-Eramosa’s “frequent guests.”
Smith, who said biker gangs are visible in the township, recounted how 12 Hell’s Angels members “in full colours” drove by the Rockwood OPP detachment the day the building opened.
“They’re here,” Smith said, adding the gangs specifically target municipalities without anti-fortification legislation as locations for their clubhouses.
“What we’re trying to do is say to the biker gangs, ‘Stay out of Wellington County; you’re not welcome here.’ ”
Smith explained officials in Chatham-Kent used a similar bylaw to shut down a fortified gang clubhouse. The property owners tried to fight the decision but lost the case in court, and gangs don’t want that hassle again, Smith said.
Mayor Chris White said the OPP “worked diligently” alongside municipal officials from across the county to ensure the bylaw is effective but also poses no risk to chief building officials.
Smith said police will always be the first to investigate or visit a property with a suspected fortified building. The OPP will do all the work except for issuing orders to stop work and to make changes, he added.
Smith agreed with White when the mayor said it is hoped the bylaw is never needed.
“It’s a tool in our tool box, should we need it,” Smith said.
Council unanimously passed the anti-fortification bylaw, leaving Wellington North as the only municipality in the county yet to do so.