Graham Avenue cleans up its act

Graham Avenues tradition of destruction may finally have landed in the trash. Literally.

The fire department put a dumpster at the end of the street in August. The result? Only two couch fires this September which pleases Chief Paul Fleming.

“We supplied a large dumpster on Graham Avenue for excess furniture and it’s been very successful,” Fleming said.

Fleming believes this annual student tradition is coming to an end thanks to a new program. The situation hasn’t always been this good. In 2012 alone, there were 47 fires on the street, caused by people burning furniture or cardboard. This year, from January to June, 24 fires took place on the infamous street.

“We have been working in partnership with UNB and STU for a number of years and we did an aggressive campaign about five years ago. Things went well, but sometimes, a new bunch of students come in and the problem starts up again,” said Fleming.

Aaron Lawlor, a third-year STU student, moved into her Graham Avenue house in September and was worried.

“I heard all the rumours about this street. Moving here from UNBSJ, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Lawlor. “But so far, so good.”

She added that there has been a lot of police circulating in the area.

“The cops go up and down our street at least five times a night. I don’t know if that’s why there hasn’t been much badness happening on the street.”

Fleming blames tradition and culture for the fires.

“It’s a culture that grows,” said Fleming. “The problem we have is student leave for the summer and leave their furniture there and the next group that moves in doesn’t want it. They put it to the curb and the next thing you know, someone sets it on fire. It’s a culture that we did break and now we’re going to deal with it again because it is a criminal act.”

Fleming and the department is ready to change the culture in the Kings College area. They are about to launch a massive campaign to educate residents and let students know exactly what they’re getting themselves into by starting fires.

Lawlor is happy with her decision to live on Graham Avenue.

“I was worried at first but this has been a great experience. My roommates and I have met tons of great people and only witness one fire.” She’s able to say that with a laugh.

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