Small time vandalism adds up to big time bills

Heather Killen
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Vandalism in Bridgetown a community problem

A small group of troublemakers are slowly taking a toll on public finances, adding up to almost $10,000 in damage to facilities. The multipurpose building will remain boarded up until finances are available to make the repair, according to Rachel Turner, town cao.

Petty vandals in Bridgetown are costing town taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Rachel Turner, town chief administrative officer, says that a small group of troublemakers are vandalizing town property and slowly taking a toll on public finances, adding up to almost $10,000 in damage to facilities.

“It really started over the summer with Jubilee Park, with the Story Walk signs being damaged repeatedly, along with other minor disturbances there,” said Turner.

“It’s escalated to broken park benches by the library, shingles being torn off the building at the ball field, and most recently the multipurpose building at the tennis court having doors kicked in and general damage to the building, along with theft of a fire extinguisher and first aid kit.”

Turner says that lately it seems each morning Charles Grant, public works supervisor, brings a list of new damage that has to be repaired. They believe that between three and four individuals are responsible for most of the damage, but it’s hard to catch them in the act.

She added the RCMP is trying to address the problem, but it’s as much a community problem as a policing issue. The town is asking residents to keep an eye open and report any suspicious activity and that parents discourage their kids from vandalizing property.

“It’s like the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. This is turning into a very costly issue for taxpayers, with the multipurpose building likely needing around $4,000 worth of repairs,” she said. “This is the second time that the building has been vandalized within a year.“

Turner says the damage is demoralizing for staff and anyone who has worked to improve the town. Tight budget constraints mean that many of these repairs will have to wait until the next budget.

The multipurpose building will remain boarded up until finances are available to make the repairs, she said.

“We have a bare-bones budget with no room for unexpected repairs unless safety is a factor,” she said. “We are hoping that by bringing this issue to the public, we can raise awareness and encourage more of the public to keep an eye open for inappropriate behaviour and for parents to be more aware of what their children are doing.“

Mayor Horace Hurlburt says that the minor incidents are escalating and when they are added up, it’s turning into a serious issue.

“It’s only a few who are causing the damage, but if all the students at the school had to pay for it, it would cost them each about $20,” he said. “There are about 450 students at that school. That’s a lot of mischief for just a few students to cause and it’s costing all the residents of the town.”

RCMP Staff Sergeant John DeWinter said police are looking into the vandalism, but it’s a community problem that will take everyone’s help to resolve.

“We need to get everyone on board,” he said. “These kinds of things usually take place when and where no one is looking. If we can get more eyes watching, the opportunities will not be there.”

To reach the Bridgetown RCMP’s nonemergency number, call 665-4481.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Bridgetown, Jubilee Park

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