Vandals have trashed washrooms in three Langley City parks, forcing their shutdown “until further notice,” a notification from the City said Monday, April 24.
Penzer Park, Rotary Centennial Park, and Portage Park washrooms were damaged.
A picture posted online by the City showed metal stalls were knocked down inside the Penzer Park washrooms.
Kyle Simpson, Langley City manager of engineering, parks and operations said the damage was inflicted in mid-March and early April.
Vandals managed to get past new tamper-resistant doors at the Penzer and Rotary park washrooms on April 17. That followed an incident at Portage on March 13, where someone set fire to a soap dispenser, causing “significant smoke and soot damage,” Simpson told the Langley Advance Times.
He estimated cost of repairs for all three sites will likely be in the “tens of thousands” of dollars.
As of Tuesday, April 25, the washroom remained closed.
“We’re hoping to have them open in a few weeks.”
Simpson said the City spends about $100,000 a year on vandalism-related repairs.
“Unfortunately, it seems to be pretty consistent 2023,” Simpson commented.
It follows two other recent incidents of vandalism in the Langley area, one between Good Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, when someone cut locks off two gates to gain access to the westernmost baseball diamonds at Langley’s Noel Booth Park, and used a vehicle to tear up the field, leaving deep ruts and rendering the facilities unusable for weeks.
A few days earlier, sometime between Saturday night, March 25 and Sunday morning, March 26 graffiti declaring “Hitler rules” and anti-Jewish comments – some of them obscene – were spray-painted on the exterior on the Langley Baseball clubhouse and concession.
It took the mural’s creator, artist Judy Pohl, about three hours to repair the damage.
In 2020, following repeated incidents where doors to the Penzer Park washrooms were kicked in and the interior vandalized, staff won approval from council to spend $15,000 on force-resistant metal-reinforced doors.
In a report to City council at the time, Rick Bomhof, the director of engineering, parks, and environment, said the parks department was also planning on installing vandal-resistant doors at Rotary Centennial Park, adding surveillance cameras were considered a last resort, something that would be installed only after exhausting less privacy-invasive alternatives like the doors.
Simpson said the City is looking at different deterrent options in the wake of the latest incidents, and has not ruled out video cameras.
He added any resident who sees suspicious activity is asked to report it to the RCMP non-emergency line 604-532-3200.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.