Vandalism is suspected in the damaging of a newly installed bridge at Pembertons One Mile Lake. The bridge, which is part of a wooden promenade along the lakes east side, sustained serious damage within 72 hours of its completion.
The bridge was part of the Village of Pembertons recent upgrade to the One Mile Lake recreation area that included beach improvements, increased wheelchair accessibility and a specific dog beach. When one of the builders returned on Monday to inspect the construction, the rails had been torn away.
"It looked like it happened sometime between Sunday, June 19 at 3:30 p.m. and Monday, June 20 at 8 a.m.," said Cst. Devon Jones, media liaison for the Whistler-Pemberton RCMP.
The bridge was a joint effort between the B.C. Wetlands Federation and the Pemberton Wildlife Association and was undertaken to protect an environmentally sensitive area of the lake.
Terry Ferron, vice-president of both the B.C. Wildlife Federation and PWA, was one of the people who worked on the bridge. He discovered the damage and subsequently reported it to the VOP and the RCMP.
Ferron said he anticipates that a cash reward will be offered for information leading to the conviction of the person(s) responsible. The reward will be made through the BCWF, an organization that makes awards post-conviction.
"In terms of monetary damage were looking at between $400 and $500 to replace the bridge. That doesnt sound like a lot, but this is a very sensitive area because its a spawning ground where youll find fingerling Coho salmon," explains Ferron.
Ferron expects that he and Tony Kaiser will have the bridge repaired for use this weekend.
"Im obviously very disappointed this has happened," said David Allen, VOP director of development. When we actually go to the trouble to improve the park for people, the wildlife and the environment I cant believe that someone takes it upon themselves to wreck it to damage the bridge.
"Im guessing its either straight-on vandalism or maybe somebody on an ATV who couldnt get through damaged the rails. Maybe we should look at passing some kind of bylaw that looks at keeping motorized vehicles out of the area."
But Allen emphasized there is no evidence that says the damage was caused by an ATV, a point Cst. Jones supported.
"At this time there are no suspects," said Cst. Jones. "The RCMP are looking to the community for help."
This is the second act of vandalism in Pemberton in the past 10 days. On Tuesday, June 14, the signpost directing people to the various B&B accommodations in the community was ripped from the traffic roundabout and destroyed. A source at the VOP estimates that rebuilding and installing the sign could cost upwards of $1,000 in materials and labour.
Anyone with information pertaining to either incident is urged to call Pemberton RCMP office directly at 604-894-6126.