Vandalism delays park equipment installation

Fitness equipment installed last Friday, after pieces were coated in anti-graffiti paint

A rash of vandalism forced the Strathcona Regional District to delay the installation of brand-new outdoor fitness equipment at Hagel Park.

The much-anticipated project had to be put on hold recently after graffiti started showing up on the playground equipment nearly every weekend.

Michael McGregor, parks and facilities technician for the Strathcona Regional District, said the worst case happened about a month ago.

“We had 18 different tags on one night (June 30) – they had a lot of fun that night,” he said. “It’s not something we enjoy seeing but it’s not the first time vandalism has happened and it won’t be the last.”

To help protect the new fitness equipment that was eventually installed last Friday, staff coated the pieces in anti-graffiti paint.

It upped the budget for the project slightly, as the paint costs roughly $3 per square foot of area painted.

It also delayed the installation which originally began two weeks ago.

The $48,171 project includes five pieces of equipment – an ab crunch/leg lift, a pull up and dip, a row and push-up machine, a chest and back press, and a cardio stepper.

It’s the first of its kind for the Strathcona Regional District and it was funded with the help of three different grants – one from Island Health, one from the B.C. government, and one from the Hagel Park Association, a community-run organization that folded in 2014 but left its remaining funding for the project.

Hagel Park is located on five acres at the end of Jodi Lynne Way in the York Road area.

It’s in a fairly secluded area but has a well-maintained tennis and basketball court, a baseball field, a playground, a nature path, and now outdoor fitness equipment.

McGregor said the hope is that the equipment will attract more people to the park, which in turn will help combat vandalism.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh said the community is on alert.

“We have eyes and ears on our parks and we have opened a file with the RCMP,” Leigh said in a regional district newsletter. “People are advised to report all vandalism to the RCMP by calling 250-286-6221. Going forward, the Strathcona Regional District is looking at options on how to best address the issue and prevent future problems.”

Regional district staff are planning to collaborate with the RCMP and representatives from the City of Campbell River’s parks department and members of the community to find ways to deal with the persistent problems of graffiti and other vandalism.