Vandals cause washroom closure

Extra garbage also leads to more work for parks staff

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Capital Regional District parks maintenance staff have been starting their day with extra clean-up duties, as large amounts of garbage have been piling up around the Centennial Park trash cans in the morning. 

Staff have also seen an increase of damage and vandalism to the Centennial Park washroom, which has led them to close the facility overnight and through days of inclement weather. 

“What we’ve noticed is the vandalism and the graffiti seems to be happening when our regular park users aren’t in the park, so there are no eyes in the park,” said CRD parks and recreation manager Dan Ovington. 

The rise in vandalism has resulted in CRD staff closing the washroom at around 3 or 4 p.m. and to also keep the washroom building closed during periods of inclement weather. The new building was opened last April.

“On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays [the washroom is] open because those days school is out and people are using the park,” said parks maintenance supervisor Kirk Harris. “We’re providing the service to people who are actually using the park.” 

Harris described the damage to the park: “There are excessive amounts of garbage. When we go there in the morning, there’ll be two or three full green garbage bags full of trash. There’ll be piles of clothing, old wet dog blankets . . . All the downspouts around the new washroom have all been crushed in. You go there in the morning, you can see where they’ve been urinating all over the place.”

Garbage is a major hindrance to park operations. Typically parks staff spend an extra half hour every day to clean excess trash, and the bill for disposing of the waste ends up going to the taxpayers. During the busy season, the CRD’s garbage bill for parks is anywhere between $350 and $450 per week. 

Harris explained that staff believes much of the washroom damage has come from people living in vans near the park, and that as they tend to congregate in the park, more and more people are attracted to the area. 

“Living downtown basically started around November. A number of those vehicles really haven’t moved since that time. They’re parked in front of the park and in front of the two banks. The other morning, there were eight of what I call ‘terrestrial liveaboards,’” Harris said.

The CRD has contacted both the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over Fulford-Ganges Road in front of the park, and the RCMP, to try and work out a solution.

For more on this story, see the Feb. 12, 2020 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

6 Comments
  1. Christian says

    Linking van dwellers or homeless to vandalism without an iota of proof shows a complete lack of journalistic integrity and only feeds stigmatization and division further.

    This is not community building.

  2. Saltyface says

    This article is a joke, there’s no proof besides heresay.. scapegoating the most vulnerable people on the whole island!!!!

  3. adam easter says

    A couple of questions for you all. Why are there 12 garbage cans around the park in the summer time when the tourists are here, but only 2 garbage cans in the winter for the locals to have access to?
    We the hobos try our hardest to keep the park clean but you take away all the garbage cans. Where is it that we are supposed to put garbage in the winter time? We all live here year-round. I myself have been here over a decade but by taking away all the garbage cans and complaining about garbage piling outside the two cans left that cannot obtain that much garbage, where do we put the rest of it? Do we leave it spread across the park where it would be if we didn’t clean it up ourselves? Where do we put the bags of garbage, CRD?

    Question 2: You say that the bathrooms are open til 4 pm each day but when I come into town from my camp each day I come to the only public bathroom in town at around 9 am each day and the bathrooms are closed and locked. The only public bathroom in town that just cost you $700,000 to build is never actually open because CRD workers do not actually do their jobs. They stand around their truck for an hour, empty the 2 garbage cans and complain to each other about the homeless and their garbage and their pee stains. I’m pretty sure if the CRD is not unlocking the bathrooms that the pee stains belong there. Why is the only public bathroom locked? (Fix your own problem, CRD.)

    1. James says

      What you’re supposed to do with your garbage is bag it, and pay for its disposal, like the rest of us do.

  4. James says

    When I was living in Drummond Park I found a way to get rid of my garbage, and I found a way to relieve myself without dumping and peeing all over the playground.
    How can we get the degenerates that are taking advantage of the public spaces to respect anything? I’d hoped we could get some cameras set up but that proposal was seen as being draconian and shut down in the last counter-referendum.
    The washrooms are locked because the mentally ill are destroying them time and time again. There is a chicken and egg here, and the CRD are responding to what is being done to them, not the other way around.

    1. Ralph says

      Thank you, James. It takes brave people to look as far as possible up the river “to see where the baby in the basket is coming from.” Given that it actually costs money to come to the island the situation for the disadvantaged must be so much more dire in traditional refuge urban communities. We can’t solve this alone.

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