Editorial: Vandals make victims of us all

It is infuriating when people target public property for vandalism.

Vandals damaged a picnic table at Spectacle Lake Park with a chainsaw earlier this month. (Linda Mills photo)

It is infuriating when people target public property for vandalism.

Some clearly plan their destruction in advance, while another group seem to act impulsively in the moment.

Either way, we all pay.

Not only does is wreck the signs, trails, picnic tables, garbage cans, and public restrooms that become targets, meaning we no longer have them to enjoy or serve our needs while they are repaired or replaced, we also, literally have to pay for those repairs or replacements through our taxes.

Communities throughout the Cowichan Valley suffer from this kind of destruction. One of the latest incidents saw picnic tables and signs at Spectacle Lake Park on the Malahat attacked with BB guns and a chainsaw. Broken glass was left to create a hazard for everyone in the vicinity, particularly dogs, who don’t have foot protection.

Broken glass is a big problem in a lot of areas, particularly on beaches, where it can go unnoticed in the sand or rocks until someone has the misfortune to step on it. Anyone who’s ever had that experience can tell you just how unpleasant it is. And all because some thoughtless miscreant thought it would be fun or funny to smash their pop or beer bottle and then leave the shards to become everyone else’s problem.

In Crofton recently vandals stole garbage cans, their lids, and in one case the surround, from the entrances to the seawalk. Vandals thought it would be funny to damage and dump at least one of the cans into the ocean. Lids and a surround vanished entirely. These garbage receptacles ensure that people don’t discard their trash (including dog excrement) on the public walkway and beach below. They perform an important function for the local environment, along with providing a service to the public.

We want these kinds of amenities in our communities. They help make our communities great places to live. It’s as if someone is coming into our collective front yard and ripping things apart. Far from being a victimless crime, it victimizes all of us. If we have to continually replace these amenities, eventually we will lose them entirely, as inevitably the municipality will conclude that it’s more trouble than it’s worth. In this way, a few antisocial creeps wreck it for everyone. Likely most of these culprits aren’t thinking at all. Which is why we’d advocate for anyone caught doing this kind of thing to be held financially responsible plus owing some sweat equity. Make them fix what they’ve broken. It’s probably the best deterrent.

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