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Bored youths target Pemberton family

Outreach worker calls for more parental involvement as Block Watch program developed



Shelley Williams has lived in Pemberton’s “Vinyl Village” for about six years, but recent problems with neighbourhood kids have made her consider packing her bags and moving away.

Williams says her family has been targeted in their home on Laurel Street by a group of local youth.

The conflict started off as a nuisance, with the kids kicking soccer balls against the house and riding bikes over her lawn. So they built a fence — at a cost of $800 — to keep the kids off of their property. But that attempt backfired, with the kids climbing up the new barrier and jumping off onto their trampoline.

They also installed floodlights to illuminate their property and discourage kids from hanging around.

But the situation escalated about one month ago when the Williamses had their front door kicked in at three o’clock in the morning.

“It’s caused a lot of stress in our family, big time,” said Williams.

“… I’m feeling better now, but for a while there, I didn’t sleep at all. Not at all. One day I think I had a break down — I just cried constantly, all day, ’cause I just didn’t know what else to do.”

According to Williams, this isn’t just an isolated incident. She said she regularly sees groups of teens — some as young as 14 years old — roaming the streets late at night, smashing bottles, drinking, and vandalizing surrounding buildings.

Williams spoke at the Village of Pemberton’s Sept. 4 council meeting, recounting her family’s ordeal, and asking for help. Specifically, she said she would like to see a streetlight erected in front of her house, and a “proper” noise bylaw implemented.

Williams said she doesn’t know why her family has been singled out, but thinks part of the reason is that the kids are bored. It’s a problem she understands well; she also grew up in a small town.

“I used to party too, but we didn’t go out hurting people and vandalizing,” she said. “And this seems to be the new kick.”

Geoff Pross is a youth outreach worker with the school board and runs the youth program at the Pemberton Community Centre. He agrees that many of the youths in Pemberton are bored. Compounding that boredom is a general sense of a lack of opportunity, which is exacerbated by the affluence in neighbouring Whistler.

And while boredom certainly can lead to mischief, Pross points out that this is the case in any small town.