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Vandals in SUV tear up Vanier Park field

Vancouver parks vandalized for second time this month
Tire ruts between four and six inches are spread across the field at Vanier Park after vandals drove
Tire ruts between four and six inches are spread across the field at Vanier Park after vandals drove an SUV across the field early Sunday morning. Photo Dan Toulgoet

This month has not been kind to a pair of parks on Vancouver’s West Side.

Just weeks after eight trees were effectively ruined near Spanish Banks, the large grass field at Vanier Park is now likely out of commission until April at the earliest.

The green space was ravaged early Sunday after what police and the Vancouver Park Board describe as a ridiculous joyride that caused between $5,000 and $10,000 in damages.

“They were up on the grass and they caused a significant amount of damage,” VPD Const. Jason Doucette told the Courier. “There are animals in the area there, there are people out at the park running at night. It’s very irresponsible.”

Police received a 911 call around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning as the damage was being done.

Officers arrived and got a good look at the vehicle in question before it sped off. Doucette described the vehicle as a dark-coloured SUV resembling an Audi Q5.

Whoever is responsible will face mischief charges at the very least and possibly more depending on evidence gathered.

“Now they’ve had some time to think about it,” Doucette said. “They’ve made a mistake. Give the police a call.”

The moist conditions near the field make the problem infinitely worse than if it had occurred in drier months. There are tire ruts and divots strewn across the field that range between four and six inches deep.

Director of parks Howard Normann offered two timelines for the field’s repair. If a rolling machine can level those divots out, the field should be repaired by April. Failing that approach, soil will have to be brought in and seed will have to be laid over each individual rut. That method would see Vanier Park recover by late spring.

“There will be visible damage for quite a while,” Normann said.

Though somewhat rare, vandalism similar to Sunday’s act is an ongoing issue at local fields and parks.

There are several access points the SUV could have used to get on the field — near the Maritime Museum, the Planetarium or the Burrard Marina.

Bollards, or metal posts, are installed at fields and parks that have been damaged in the past and most of the city’s turf fields are fenced off.

That said, Normann doesn’t want to see the day when more barriers or fencing are even in the conversation around park access.

“It’s not the field [experience] we like for Vancouver,” Normann said. “We are pretty open to having people wander around and enjoy parks. How welcoming is it to a family to have a fence around or a bunch of logs? We try to be welcoming.”

Sunday’s stupidity comes just over two weeks after several trees were vandalized near Locarno Beach.

Eight trees at the foot of Tolmie Street had their tops sawed off and limbs removed, causing irreparable damage. The affected trees range in size between five and 30 feet, and while the foliage will continue to grow outwards, the trees cannot grow any higher.

That point alone has Normann confident the trees were cut specifically by nearby homeowners to ensure their beachfront views.

“It could’ve been someone looking 10, 20, 30 years out who just lives a few hundred meters over — why else would you do it?” Normann said. “There’s no real purpose, in my opinion, just to do it at that particular location unless you’re thinking about the future. Who else would it benefit?”

Although no one has been arrested, Normann said the investigation has been narrowed down to a few homes adjacent to the beach.

Anyone with information in either case is asked to call the VPD’s non-emergency line at 604-717-3321.