Park vandals cost all of us

The City of Parksville does not send us press releases every day. When we received two of them on the same day late last week, the most jarring thing was not the frequency, but rather the apparent contradiction contained in the two public notifications.

The first was a cheery update on fundraising efforts by the Parksville Lions Club and Parksville Rotary AM, who have reached the midway point of their goal of $100,000 toward a new splash park at Community Park. The new water park, scheduled to replace the current, outdated splash park following the close of the current season, has been budgeted by the city for $300,000, with a third of the cost picked up by the service organizations and their contributors throughout the community.

In its other news release, the city regretted to inform the public that a wheelchair accessible swing, installed by the Lions in 2014 at Ventureland Playground in Community Park, has been removed for the foreseeable future, thanks to the tender mercies of vandals.

It seems ongoing and repeated acts of vandalism, graffiti and theft to the structure have forced the city to remove the swing, one of very few on the Island that provided unique access to wheelchair-bound users. Now, a hollow frame rests forlornly on the padded platform alongside the “regular” swings in the park. Which, thankfully, are still in use for the public.

The wheelchair swing was doomed not by a single tag, mind you, but repeated and ongoing incidents of vandalism and graffiti. Including attacks to the swing, vandalism in the park has cost $10,000 — just so far this year — according to the city. Further, much of the funding for maintenance and improvements in the park playground falls to the Lions Club, the same group currently labouring to come up with a third of the cost of the new splash park.

So, we’re to cheer the raising of $50,000 — money donated by civic-minded businesses, individuals and community groups — while at the same time $10,000 has slipped out the back door to cover damage done by a few decidedly not civic-minded hooligans.

No wonder the city has pulled the plug on the wheelchair swing, at least until it can come up with a way to secure it against this sort of inexplicable targeting.

To the Lions, to their Rotary counterparts and to all those who have contributed toward making Parksville a little brighter, we say thank you. To those who lurk in the shadows and poke sticks in the spokes of wheelchair-bound kids, thanks for nothing.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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