Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vandals move out of the downtown core

Prince Rupert's ongoing vandalism problems now stretch as far as the Park Avenue campground in the west end and the welcome to Prince Rupert signs on the highway approach to town to the east.

Taking a break from the apparently ritual activity of smashing the Subway restaurant windows (though the plywood appearing over the windows again there suggest that it's still an ongoing problem), vandals moved to alternate venues to gain their attention and cause havoc.

A number of stories through August featured details on a string of vandalism incidents which raised the ire of local residents and business operators.

City’s welcome mat hit by spray-painting vandals
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Page three

The two greeting signs welcoming people to Prince Rupert on Highway 16 were vandalized this past long weekend.

The ‘Welcome to Prince Rupert’ sign was vandalized with the word ‘Rupert’ crossed-out and replaced with Tsimshian Territory.’ The older, ‘City of Rainbows’ sign was covered in large letters: “This is Occupied Tsimshian Land’. On the back of the sign, as if to remind people leaving the city, the sign read: “You are still on Tsimshian Land’.

As of press time there was no word on who might have sprayed the graffiti on the greeting signs near Butze Rapids.

According to Bob Thompson, the city was planning to deal with the issue as soon as possible, but he was unsure exactly when that might be.

“There is a lot of vandalism right now in Prince Rupert and from time-to-time this kind of thing does happen but we will deal with it promptly,” said Thompson.

“It’s only paint,” he added and was quick to mention that the city would take it seriously, as it does all vandalism. He said, because the city painter was on vacation, the process would take a little longer than normal.

Thompson said the city would likely have to hire a contractor to put a fresh coat of paint on the signs.

Reaction from the Tsimshian nation was one of disappointment that such a thing had happened.

James Bryant of the Allied Tribes of the Coast Tsimshian pointed out that the person responsible for the vandalism was unknown, and he urged people not to point fingers until more information comes out.

“Let’s face it people all over Prince Rupert are frustrated,” said Bryant.

Graffiti Update
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, August 8, 2008
Page three

The City employed a power washer to remove graffiti spray painted on the greeting signs near Butz Creek. The power washer did not work.

According to Bob Thompson, the city will now have to slap on a new coat of paint on the two wooden signs.

Unfortunately, the City will have to wait and see how it’s going to fix the Welcome to Prince Rupert sign because it is of special material that was imported from Toronto.

Thompson said the estimated cost to Prince Rupert taxpayers to get all the work done is going to be $2,000.

The signs were vandalized on the BC Day long-weekend by unknown vandals though there were no leads as to who did it.

The City does expect work to begin very soon on the Hays Creek trestle bridge.

The bridge was meant to be closed this week but so far the company handling the upgrading, Broadwater Industries, has only begun preliminary work leaving the bridge still open for commuters.

Thompson could not say when the bridge would actually close but he did say signs will be posted on McBride St. to inform drivers of the closures.

RV Park owner defends barricade
Prince Rupert RV Park owner tired of petty thieves
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, August 8, 2008
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert RV Park owner Jong Kim is defending his decision to barricade a trail that formerly connected his property to Morse Creek.

Kim said he became tired of petty thieves breaking into the park and stealing from his customers and he decided to sever the link that had been popular with dog walkers.

He stressed that he built the barricade earlier this year to protect his customers, not to keep Rupertites out.

“People trespassing are not my problem People stealing is my problem,” said Kim as he gave a tour of his RV property. “Trespassing by innocent people is welcomed. But how am I going to judge who is a good guy and who is a bad guy.”

The city of Prince Rupert would not comment on the trail barricade at this time.

General manager of engineering and public works Bob Thompson was able to confirm that the city is trying to negotiate an agreement with Kim on how to deal with the barricade.

But for Kim’s part he is not willing to negotiate at this time. Kim said he wouldn’t sit by the entrance and guard his park.

The barricade itself is not exactly the wall of Jericho. The four-foot high barricade made of tree trunks, rocks ad cement blocks to keep non-customers from entering through the trail won’t keep out the most determined people.

But the three-year resident of Prince Rupert said he wants the blockage to work as a warning to thieves that he is no longer going to put with their pilfering.

According to Kim, he has lost at $4,000 in property damage cause by thieves and vandals sneaking in from the trail during the day and night, which he believes blights the good name of Prince Rupert.

In one instance he had to pay $3,000 to fix the awning and doors for his west side bathroom and lost the male logo to the men’s bathroom. Doors show punched-in vents and there are still some awnings that need to be fixed.

“I feel very bad,” said Kim as he explains why he had to build the barricade.

“Because my customers were fishing for one week and were from Winnipeg and Toronto and the theft of their fish cost them $5,000 to $7,000.”

In another instance a child lost his bike because someone came in to the park and took it. Now five bikes on the western wing sit chained-up.

“Do you know how upset they were?”

It was a children’s bike. So that kind of thing I report to the police. But the police cannot do anything because the thieves are already gone.”

He now warns all customers to chain up their bikes while on his property, which is something he loathes to do, but he feels people need to be forewarned that their possessions may not be safe if left unlocked or unattended.

Kim has been warned by police to build a fence to protect his property but he couldn’t afford to build one at this time.

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