Rare wood carvings placed throughout Chances Casino’s property were destroyed by vandals recently.
Deb Price, general manager of the casino said that the vandalism has been ongoing since last month. The first one took place towards the end of March, followed by two more instances between April 18th and 19th.
The casino has been shut since March, 16 in compliance to COVID-19 protocols.
“The first time around they took half of a carving, a hummingbird from atop a rose, and then next, the carvings of a Native warrior and his dog were destroyed and yet another one of a fish was hacked into half,” said Price.
The video surveillance footage from the casino, show all three instances taking place at night thereby reducing the quality of the videos and the ability to identity the people involved.
The videos also show that the people who vandalized these carvings initially tried carrying them away.
“But since these wood works were heavy, they must have tried hacking it into smaller pieces,” Price said of the attempts that eventually destroyed the pieces.
She said that the videos have been submitted to the police who are investigating the case and believe that it could be homeless people trying to steal items to get money for drugs.
“It’s frustrating, I don’t understand the motive of this crime,” Price said adding, “They ended up destroying the carvings for literally nothing, they won’t get any money out of it.”
The carvings, part of a series of artwork produced during the annual chainsaw carving festival, Transformations on the Shore, held in Campbell River every June.
Every year, in June, professional and amateur carvers from across B.C. and neighbouring provinces participate in the festival to produce original artwork. Last year, at the 23rd annual carving festival held at Frank James Park, there were over 20 participants.
Many of the carvings produced during the festival are generally distributed around town for display in businesses and public spaces.
The casino donates money every year to pick out some of the carvings produced during the festival for display at their premises. Many of the carvings on their property have been collected over the years with the warrior and his dog dating back to 2007.
“It was selected by our staff and it has been on the premises since, for people to see.”
Local carvers came in and tried to fix the damaged carvings but they were beyond repair.
Most of these carvings are exclusive pieces, produced by carvers solely for the festival and therefore irreplaceable.
“It’s a shame to see them destroyed,” said Price, indicating that they will have to wait till next year to procure new carvings as Transformations on the Shore festival stands cancelled this year.