It’s a case of “a few bad apples spoiling the bunch,” according to the Tyee Club of B.C., which has been forced to gate and lock the parking lot across the road on the Tyee Spit after years of vandalism and willful damage paid for out-of-pocket.
Unfortunately, that gate may have contributed to the behaviour moving out of the parking lot and onto the road late Monday night, when it’s alleged that a 14-year-old boy behind the wheel of an uninsured Dodge Ram destroyed some of the club’s signage before fleeing the scene, according to Floyd Ross, who sits on the board of the Tyee Club.
The Campbell River RCMP have confirmed that they did respond to an event matching that description on Monday night.
“The driver, who is a minor, was located nearby and faces multiple charges under the Motor Vehicle Act, including Driving While Uninsured,” says RCMP spokesperson Const. Maury Tyre.
Ross says the club has been trying to get the police to deal with the situation for years.
“It got so bad, we had to put some big rocks in the parking lot to try and make people stop spinning donuts in there and tearing it up, to act like dividers, but all that did was make them concentrate the doughnuts into a smaller area,” Ross says. “So when that didn’t work, we put the gate up last season, but on the one side, where some boulders acted as the barrier, they found one space that was just big enough to squeeze in, and it just continued.”
One doughnut incident was so severe, Ross says, “that it threw rocks clear across the road with such velocity that it broke the glass on our big old fish scale we had on display.”
So they brought someone in to plug up the holes with more boulders, Ross says, and now the gate remains locked to the public, which he feels could have been avoided if some effort would have been put into deterring the behaviour.
“We’ve had the police numerous times, taken photos, taken license plate numbers, and one time I blocked in the cars when they were parked after doing their doughnuts and sitting down on the wharf – and to do that they have to go around a closed gate that says ‘No Trespassing,’” Ross says. “I called the police, but when they came down, they went and talked to them and came back and told me that I had no right to block them in because they wanted to leave and couldn’t, so I was at fault. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Then at about 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 8, Ross got a call saying that he should probably head down and see what was going on – a call he’s received a number of times in the past – and found what he calls “a heavy police presence” around a Dodge Ram that had destroyed both the club’s signage and a concrete rowboat that had been purchased and donated to the club in memory of Katherine Cork’s late husband, Stan, to be used as a decorative flower planter.
“It’s just so frustrating,” Ross says. “We keep putting money out to cover vandalism with no hope of getting any of it back or anybody being held accountable.”
Not that they have much hope of replacing that planter, anyway.
“I looked into it and it turns out those boats were made by an artist on Sointula, and he’s disappeared,” Ross says. “Nobody knows where he’s gone, so these basically don’t exist anymore. That was a tough phone call to make. She was quite upset. Thankfully, we later found the plaque in the rubble and it’s not too damaged, so we’ll put something back up that memorializes him.”
Ross says it’s not entirely the police’s fault it’s come to this.
“They’re frustrated, too,” Ross says. “I mean, they have bigger fish to fry, so to speak, and there’s only so many hours in a day and so many officers to go around. I guess I just wish people would have some respect for other people’s property,” Ross says. “And if you see something happening out there in town that you don’t think is right, call it in and report it, because that’s the only way they can do something.”
In defence of the RCMP, Const. Tyre says the organization does its best with the resources it has available, pointing out that the detatchment is currently fielding a seven per cent increase in calls year-over-year.
“As of Oct. 9, 2019 there have been over 13,100 calls for service from the public, which is a 1400 call increase when compared to the same date in 2018,” Tyre says, adding that while the number of calls that come from the Spit Road area have been “limited,” charges have been laid in any incidents over the years that merited them.