The recent spike in acts of vandalism around town are not going unnoticed by the Village of Pemberton.
“We're pretty disappointed in what's happening in the community right now. To see this type of thing happening is pretty senseless,” said Coun. Ted Craddock.
Recent damage at Pemberton Secondary School includes broken door windows on the school building, damaged railings and more broken windows on the portable buildings behind the school. RCMP reported that over $4,000 of damage was done during the late hours of June 15.
Additionally, the skate park has recently had trees broken and landscaping tape ripped down and the welcome sign to Pemberton has had its lights ripped off.
“We're always working with the community, letting them know that if they see a problem they need to phone it in to the police,” continued Craddock.
“If you don't do that we have no choice but to fix up the problem and if we can't claim it back from the people doing it, we have to take it out of the taxpayers’ money and our budget.”
Vandalism has always existed in Pemberton, but the problem has seen an increase in recent years. While the Village would normally allocate money to repair or replace damaged property, it will now be tabulating all information from every case of vandalism and following up with RCMP.
“We're starting to track things so that we can ensure that all of these incidents are reported to the RCMP and a file and incident number is generated,” said Mayor Jordan Sturdy. “It's important to see if there's any common denominators here.”
The goal of filing the reports is to eventually find the culprits, but also to know how much those responsible could be liable for if they are caught.
“We'll start to ensure that we have estimates for repairs,” continued Sturdy. “Ultimately if we get to a point where we are able to seek restitution from whoever is committing these acts of (vandalism), we will pursue it to the fullest extent that we can.”
As another deterrent, the RCMP may soon have an increased presence in Pemberton during late nights, when much of the vandalism occurs. There is currently a gap in the RCMP staff schedule during late night hours where there is only on-call personnel available.
“We are working with the RCMP to try to ensure that they have a flexible staffing schedule,” said Sturdy.
He added that officials are also looking at strategies to get RCMP officers out of their cars and onto foot or bicycle, which will make them less easy to spot and more effective at apprehending vandals.
Sturdy said it ultimately comes down to communication of how damage to the community is paid for.
“These are community assets. If thousands of dollars of damages (are made), those thousands of dollars come straight out of people's taxes and they're not able to be spent on positive things. Ultimately the impact is (to the vandals) themselves. It's like breaking your own windows.”
Village of Pemberton officials also met with the Howe Sound school board this week to discuss deterrent strategies in the schools themselves.