A man showing off the Kinsol Trestle to a friend made a surprising discovery Thursday, Dec. 4. Richard Mortimer found some vandalism at the famous reconstructed bridge and, on reporting it to the Cowichan Valley Regional District, discovered that the security camera there is not working.
A call by the Citizen to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – which is responsible for the camera – elicited the reply Tuesday that they have known for months the camera is not working and are doubtful that it will ever work successfully in such a remote area.
Mortimer was showing the trestle to a friend when they noticed the vandalism.
"Someone had taken an axe or a machete to the rail on one side of the trestle. There were woodchips on the surface of the trestle itself so it was very recent.
"Anyway I got home and I thought, I’m going to report this to the CVRD parks department to see if they’ve picked it up on the camera. There is a security camera right down there and although it was a few hundred feet away, it was pointing right at that spot."
Mortimer got on the phone. "I talked to the parks guy, Ryan Dias, and he tells me the camera doesn’t work and it’s not been working for a year now and they’ve been talking to the province trying to get it working. I guess it’s the province’s responsibility by the sound of it."
The Ministry said it was aware the camera has not been operational since approximately March 2014 because at that time "Telus undertook some network upgrades to their system which resulted in the camera losing its cellular signal and the ability to broadcast images."
Mortimer was upset that the senseless vandalism had spoiled what many consider to be a wonder of the world.
"I’ve never noticed any vandalism there before. But, then, on the day you decide to go down there and show someone, there’s this vandalism there. It wasn’t that extensive but it was enough to be disappointing and hopefully will not happen again," he said.
"We didn’t see any other walkers in the area when we were there.
"I was reassured because I thought it would have to be on the camera and the camera is right there looking right that way. But it isn’t even working," Mortimer said.
CVRD chair Jon Lefebure said he had heard about the damage to the trestle.
"The damage is relatively minor but it is in a handrail. A crew will be going to fix it. It should be fairly minor. I assume they will be replacing a number of boards," he said.
Lefebure also said, "Staff have been contacting the BC Ministry of Transportation regularly about their camera, which they were good enough to install to help protect the trestle. But apparently it is not working and for all we know it could be a budget issue with them. We’re just not sure," he said.
It is necessary to have some kind of security there, he said, and he hoped the Transportation Ministry would get on it soon. "This is an important thing," Lefebure said.
An enquiry to the Ministry led to an emailed response to the Citizen.
That reply said the camera was installed to monitor construction "during the Kinsol Trestle restoration."
Part of the problem with monitoring it was that "the signal at that location was challenging at the time as it was a weak signal that required very precise orientation to work," the release said.
Being aware of the loss of the camera has not pushed the ministry into quick action, however.
The email also said, "Maintenance crews are scheduled to upgrade camera components by the end of December to see if it is possible to receive a signal."
The email said the future of the security camera was uncertain, pointing out, "even with these upgrades, there is a possibility that the camera will remain unable to broadcast images as a result of the network changes and lack of cellular connection."