No ‘drug shacks’ near city high school, say officials

Nancy MacPhee
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SUMMERSIDE — Police and school officials say there are no so-called 'drug shacks' in the woods close to where a fire ignited at Three Oaks Senior High School this week.

Firefighters on the scene of a grass fire near Three Oaks Senior High School Monday afternoon.

Summerside Police Services Sgt. Barry Arsenault and Three Oaks principal Nicole Haire both said Thursday that drug use in the wooded area near the field that caught fire had been a concern last year, an issue, both say, that has since been addressed.

“As far as these sheds and forts and such, they’ve never been in existence to our knowledge,” said Arsenault. “I have been up there several times myself.”

A fire broke out in the field adjacent to Three Oaks’ sports fields near Ottawa Street just as school wrapped up for the day on Monday.

The fire spread east across the field but was knocked down quickly by 35 members of the Summerside Fire Department.

Fire Chief Jim Peters said the source and cause of the fire wasn’t known and likely wouldn’t be determined although, he added, “I have my suspicions.”

An online commenter indicated that “as many parents with children attending TOSH have heard”, there is a “structure/tent” setup in the area “utilized for drug use.” 

The issue of the so-called drug shacks had been raised open drug panel hosted by the school last spring by several parents in attendance.

Since, said Haire, the school and police have addressed the issue, although, she was quick to point out there was never a structure in the wooded area.

“Last year we put up our no trespassing signs. The school board gave us direction to do that. We had people patrolling the area. I don’t think it is a problem anymore,” said the principal. “I don’t know where they are going. I know the police have been trying to figure that out. It’s not just our high school kids. There are junior high kids that are into this stuff, too.”

As far as how the fire started, she added that students and others in the community regularly cut through the field to go to Ottawa Street.

“Whether it was a cigarette butt or what, I don’t know,” said Haire. “We put up the trespassing signs. We put a policy in place. We educated the parents and the kids. The traffic isn’t going that way the way it did in previous years.”

Arsenault said police had regularly been patrolling the area and several other areas in the city where young people have been reported to gather and suspected to be using illegal drugs.

He said after daily visits to the suspected area near Three Oaks the problem “soon corrected itself.”

The department’s focus then moved to the dugouts at Queen Elizabeth Park, which is located within feet of Summerside Intermediate School.

“We moved our patrols over there,” said Arsenault. “We don’t think that is an issue in the dugouts anymore.”

The police sergeant noted that SIS does have a policy prohibiting its students from being on the city’s sports fields over their lunch hour.

And, he added, “It’s not uncommon to see kids from outside Summerside there because they know that’s where some of them had been going.”

There have been reports of youth congregating in Heritage Park, some doing drugs.

“You’re allowed in the park. You’re not allowed in the park after 10 o’clock at night. You’re not allowed to partake in any illegal activities there,” said Arsenault. “If we find them and apprehend them we will certainly deal with that.”

The police sergeant said most youngsters found in these areas are not doing anything illegal but some have been caught with drugs.

“Is it a problem? It is a concern and we continue to work with school officials on it.”

Arsenault doesn’t feel there is a huge drug issue in the areas of Three Oaks or SIS.

But, he admitted, “Maybe we’re blind here. Maybe there is a huge issue up there and we are not being made aware of it. When you go in you can kind of tell what kind of paraphernalia is there or not. There’s not an overabundance of that stuff anywhere that we are finding.”

He said the public must proactive in helping curb the problem by reporting any suspected illegal activity by any age group to police.

“We need the community’s help to let us know.”


Organizations: Summerside Police Services, Summerside Fire Department, Summerside Intermediate School

Geographic location: Ottawa Street, Queen Elizabeth Park, Summerside Heritage Park

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Recent comments

  • Amy
    December 06, 2012 - 23:41

    How about the parents take action into there own hands. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to take your kid in to do a drug test. Once a week,once a month whenever. If your child is doing drugs here's an idea Discipline them!!! Don't let them hang out with there dumpy friends, take away cell change wifi passwords. Don't sit back scratching your heads about this issue... Why should you have to call police if your own child is smoking drugs show them what life can be like if they continue down that path surely there are plenty of low life's kicking around for a testimonial.

  • K.C.
    December 03, 2012 - 18:44

    Doesn't matter, NewfieCharles. Marijuana belongs at home, not school. Same with the alcohol you mentioned, which is also being drank at school. Same with the pills. Anyone who doesn't see the problems going on here must be blind.

  • NewfieCharles
    December 03, 2012 - 10:29

    Parents buy their kids liquor when they’re headed to parties because they feel “they’ll get it somewhere else”, while they demonize marijuana, and don’t even bring up prescription pills. Three years into my degree living in a small city, and I’ve know 2 people I can say marijuana was a major contributing factor in their failure at a post secondary level. Likewise, I’ve seen DOZENS of kids turn into alcoholics as soon as they leave mom & dad’s eyes, and flunk out. Prescription pills aren’t as prevalent, but I’m going to say I know about 10-12 kids who dropped out because of them. This isn’t to mention the socially detrimental choices they make when intoxicated, which have immense effects on their own mental health, and perception amongst their peers. Now, when you fail to educate the hard facts about substances (regardless of how they’re viewed socially) kids neglect the severity of abusing them, and amazingly enough, form addictions. Keep freaking out over drug shacks Summerside, and enjoy being a breeding ground for alcoholics and prescription pill abusers.

  • K.C.
    December 02, 2012 - 23:56

    Not to mention, I'm pretty sure kids these days have enough trouble stocking up their drugs/drug paraphenaelia/alcohol/school books/personal belongings etc. They are not going to waste their time carrying around a tent. What are they hiding from anyway? The Taliban?

  • K.C.
    December 02, 2012 - 23:54

    DOLY - Are you serious??? It's high school not the C.I.A. And as someone who went to Three Oaks I personally know that it is not a tent crammed into a backpack....hhahahahahaha.......

  • Parent
    November 30, 2012 - 09:14

    This concerned parent should be reporting her encounter with someone at the Police Services to the Chief of Police, when calling for help or advice everyone should be treated with respect and if this happened as the concerned parent is saying then action should be taken by the Chief. As for the drug shack it appears someone is not coming full circle with the truth, this as well should be clarified, surely the students know if in fact there is a drug shack. All this he said she said BS should be put to rest. Again all these issues are the responsibility of the Chief of Police. Buck stops with him.

  • Sarah
    November 29, 2012 - 16:01

    I've also seen pictures on facebook. Why the cover up?

  • K.C.
    November 29, 2012 - 15:22

    Three times I have tried to post my comment but it was rejected every time. The Summerside police as well as our school systems are going public with an outright LIE. Like I said in my last 3 posts, instead of trying to cover up your bruises, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Instead of calling up the Journal Pioneer and asking them to "please print something positive about our school."

  • Jarrod
    November 29, 2012 - 13:21

    It's funny that this story seems to highlight the issue of students using drugs, but at the same time SIS prohibits its students from using municipal sports equipment on lunch. We've got an epidemic of obese/drug using kids, but the school and the city can't come together to develop a program that would allow kids to play baseball at lunch. C'mon now.

  • K.C.
    November 29, 2012 - 12:58

    It's been there for years. Maybe it's time they do something about it, instead of trying to cover up their bruises.

  • me
    November 29, 2012 - 11:40

    They didn't look too hard then because there is a "shack" in that woods, I've seen it myself. There are pictures on facebook of teens partying there and it's been around since I have in that high school, it just expanded over the last few years.

  • concerned parent
    November 28, 2012 - 21:41

    Ok...I for one am a parent of a student in grade 12 at TOSH. I also know that drugs are a huge problem at both TOSH and SIS as I have a child in grade 8 there. In one class at SIS my child has 8 known students who sit around my child who are known to use drugs. As for my child that attends TOSH I know for a fact there is a lot of drug use and it is a huge problem there. I have been through hell this year trying to educate, and search for supports to keep my child on the right path. For god sakes, some of the kids we know are now selling. I one night picked my child up at the Heritage Park late at night..knew my child had smoked something illegal. So I come home, called the Summerside Police, and asked to speak to an officer as I wanted to know why these places are so available for our children to hang out in and smoke drugs. The lady asked me why I wanted to talk to an officer...I explained that I was very concerned and wanted to know what we as parents need to do to get the kids out for these places...and I needed to speak to an officer. She put me on hold...and 15 minutes later I was still on hold and hung up. I feel like we have no where to turn. These kids today need to be taken to a Federal Prision just like on TV and be scared straight. I know all the places they go..Something needs to be done...and we need to continue to try and get thes kids educated today.

    • DUNCAN
      December 07, 2012 - 13:44

      If you think that the police are required to patrol every inch of Sumerside for dope smoking hooligans, you are sadely mistaken. If someone wants to smoke drugs, they are going to be able to, that is a cold hard reality. As for kids being brought to a federal prison to be scared out of getting hi, you just need to remind yourself that we live in Canada, not America. If your kids becore more educated about marijuana, it may be counter productive.....

  • don
    November 28, 2012 - 21:08

    one druggie is to many. one of theses days you will find a dead body and then maybe the police and courts will do something. but you watch one area they will move.

  • Ann
    November 28, 2012 - 20:41

    Now this is the kind of information I am really glad to finally hear. I used to walk through Heritage Park frequently when coming and going from downtown and the smell of drugs was frequently in the air as recently as this past May. This fall I've been there less often but I have not noticed anything much going on, a few teens horsing around and some park damage but no smell other than cigarettes. I've also seen a decrease in dealing at Rotary Friendship Park (and those were not teens!). I feel much safer going there now. People will always find a new place to deal/use drugs but it's great to know that the city police are taking steps to keep it out of public spaces.

  • OMG...
    November 28, 2012 - 20:10

    First I will not be using my real name to protect my child. No it is not actually a shack or building. It is a clearing in the woods where there is lots of garbage, burnt out grass and shrubs, many many many empty liquir and cigarette packages etc and it is also considered the local "fighting ring". I have also as a parent patrolled it looking for my child. If they aren't there at that exact patrol time check QE Park and the Ballpark dugouts and the bleachers. If they aren't in one of those spots they are in another. Also hang around Needs Store where all the "deals" go down or the smoke spot at TOSH or the cars in the parking lots. When I called to report and give actual names of students selling to 12-14 year olds in SIS I was told someone would call me back. Yep they sure did NINE DAYS LATER !!!!!!!!!! Oh and get this, put your child in an addiction program. Unless they are using they get the boot after one year...can't imagine why our streets are crawling with kids on drugs. Create a facebook account, it's all there in pictures and comments in black and white. Nope I'm not a police officer...just a HEAVY HEARTED MOM :(

  • Concerned Parent
    November 28, 2012 - 19:30

    That is simply UNTRUE. Of course there is a "Drug Fort" - the school and the RCMP acknowledged during the Drug Panel last year at TOSH. It's been there for 15+ years! It was also suggested that the parents patrol it because there was not enough man power on the Drug Unit to do so. I went that night (a Monday night around 9pm) after the Drug Panel at TOSH and seen plenty of activity. To say there isn't a huge drug issue in the areas of Three Oaks or SIS is absolutely ridiculous. Visit the "Drug Fort" (aka Heritage Park) or the baseball dugouts near SIS any day between 12-1 and see for yourself. It is unfortunate that the school officials and police want to keep things quiet. It'll get MUCH worse before it gets better, trust me!

  • Tammy Hume
    November 28, 2012 - 18:04

    Are you kidding me? I am a parent in Summerside and I have taken a stroll down there and have seen the "dope fort" with my own eyes. There is no structure but there is definitely an area there, enclosed with trees that the kids go to to get high. I know this because I had been forced to "patrol" the area because the cops wouldn't do anything about it. When I asked the police, i was told that there was not enough officers available to do something like that every day. So, when I read that the police and the school officials are stating that no such place exists, I have to laugh.

    • doly
      December 01, 2012 - 20:12

      THERE IS NO DRUG SHACK it is a tent that folds out of a backpack,like an ice hut tent every second school kid has one,they are hard to spot because they were only in black backpacks but now you can get them in camoflouge,and now with winter coming the white ones will be out soon,they seat up to 6 depending on the size of the backpack,they are great when used for ice fishing,