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Vandals doom Parksville park’s wheelchair swing

Grafitti and vandalism have cost city $10,000 so far in 2017
The platform for the wheelchair-accessible swing at Lions Ventureland Playground at Community Park in Parksville stands empty after the city was forced to remove the swing following repeated incidents of vandalism and grafitti. — J.R. Rardon photo

A wheelchair swing donated to the playground in Community Park in 2014 has succumbed to the work of vandals.

The City of Parksville announced in a written release Thursday that the wheelchair swing, donated by the Parksville Lions Club, was permanently removed from Lions Ventureland Playground that morning and “will not be in service for the foreseeable future.”

The city cited “ongoing grafitti and vandalism” to the swing for forcing the action.

“Since spring, we have seen an increasing amount of senseless and significant vandalism and theft to the swing,” city communications director Deb Tardiff wrote in the release. “The swing is locked out to protect small children from injury when they unknowingly play on it. Although the code is readily available to an adult, the locks and the swing have seen constant vandalism.”

In all, vandalism and “endless grafitti” have cost the city more than $10,000 throughout the playground so far this year.

The city relies on fundraising from Lions Club volunteers for playground maintenance costs and for equipment for the playround.

“It is disheartening for staff and the Parksville Lions Club members to continually deal with this issue and because of major safety concerns,” Tardiff said in the release. “The swing has been removed until such time as security for the park and the wheelchair swing can be improved.”

Installed in 2014, the swing proved extremely popular for children with accessibility needs. The city said there are few opportunities on Vancouver Island for playground integration and the response to this swing from parents and the community has been “overwhelmingly positive.” For these reasons, this was a difficult decision for the city’s operations department, the city release stated.