While there have been complaints about vandalism and graffiti being on the rise in Parksville, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Local officials hope the perceived increase is temporary and more a case of it not being cleaned up or fixed as fast.
Debbie Tardiff, city communication officer, said it has been great to see the community response to the new waterfront boardwalk, which makes recent damage all the more disappointing.
Overnight Jan. 16 a memorial bench was badly damaged by fire which upset people such as Pamela Struke who walks her dog there regularly.
“I was almost in tears when I saw that, we love our beach and I take it so personally,” she said, explaining she lost her husband 16 months ago and purchased a memorial tree in the park, so the destruction seemed sacrilegious or like the desecration of someone’s memory.
“You can’t legislate stupidity,” said parks foreman Peter Crawshaw, who said two fires in the same spot were almost certainly caused by people doing drugs.
The city and fire department discourage fires on the beach, but Crawshaw said it was particularly disappointing to see someone light a fire on the boardwalk.
Corporal Richard van de Pol of the Oceanside RCMP said there have been incidents in the past few weeks including planters and a business sign on Memorial being damaged around Jan. 28 and damage to vehicles, but he said it seemed routine.
At a recent city council meeting Staff Sgt. Brian Hunter was asked about the apparent increase in graffiti.
Reporting on the steady decline in mischief over the last three years, he said there was a spike.
“Our members are acutely aware of the problem,” he said, “we need intelligence from the community. There’s people out there who know who did this.”
Hunter and van de Pol urge people to report any crime in progress as well as providing any information they may have after the fact, pointing out they can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 250-248-TIPS (8477) .
Despite the recent activity vandalism cost the city $13,000 in 2010, compared to an average of $29,000 over the previous three years.