Township OKs bylaw against fortified buildings

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.