Parks vandalism leaving a big bill for taxpayers

By Leah Murray
September 19, 2018 - 3:49pm Updated: September 19, 2018 - 7:17pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB – Taxpayers in Medicine Hat are going to be on the hook for an increase in vandalism this year.

The city’s parks department is estimating the bill for repairs will likely double compared to 2017 or 2016, and that's just for parks.

Part of that is because of changes to the way vandalism is recorded, but parks manager Randy Taves says they’ve seen a spike in clean up costs as well.

In 2016, the toal cost to repair damage done by vandals in city parks was $65,000. Last year, repairs racked up a bill of $67,000.

“To date we’re over $90,000 and we’re projecting, the way things are going this year, we could be $120,000 or $130,000 or more [by year end],” said Taves.

In the latest round of mischief, vandals targeted public washrooms in city parks.

One of the bathrooms had toilet paper strung around the facility like party streamers.

In Kin Coulee Park, the damage was a little more intensive. The bathroom near the bandstand has had to be closed for the season ahead of schedule.

Taves said someone went in and ripped the toilets out of the ground and destroyed the toilet paper dispensers.

He doesn’t know why there’s been a spike in this kind of activity, but said it’s disappointing and residents should be upset by it, because it’s their money that go towards repairs.

“It’s just an on-going concern and it’s money we don’t want to spend,” said Taves. “We’d rather [spend it] improving our park amenities, so it’s really wasteful and very frustrating.”

The city deals with dozens of similar incidents throughout the year, though the majority happen during the summer. It can include everything from spray painted graphiti in parks and playgrounds, to broken windows and doors in buildings.

The city is asking residents to contact police if they see any vandalism occurring or witness any suspicious activity.

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