'IT'S JUST GETTING WORSE AND WORSE.'
KAMLOOPS - The trail connecting downtown Kamloops' Riverside and Pioneer Park is usually filled with pedestrians, dogs and nature, but now a city official is sounding off about persistent damage and graffiti in the area.
City of Kamloops Parks and Civic Facilities Manager Jeff Putnam says his staff were walking the trail last week to plan out new memorial trees, when they noticed some public art was vandalized and memorial plaques had been pried off displays.
Putnam says he's "extremely disappointed" that people would steal valuable plaques from public property.
"The level of graffiti, vandalism and theft that we’ve experienced on city property in the last year year and a half... (is) extremely concerning," he says. "(It will take) a lot of money and a lot of time trying to get the original copies of what information was on there."
Putnam tweeted about the vandalism earlier this week, specifically pointing out missing plaques from the Forest Plaza rock sculpture at Waterfront Park, between Pioneer and Riverside park.
He says it could take up to three months for the city to replace the plaques that were stolen and this time they'll try to use tamper-proof material.
"It looks to me like they're stealing for the metal," he says. "That's a concern so were looking for alternate materials."
Putnam says he's spoken to members of the public who are very upset about the graffiti, specifically how there has been an apparent spike in the graffiti this year and last year.
He says the city's graffiti task force only has so many resources and at this point members are chasing graffiti seven days per week.
"It does take time to get to all of the damaged areas," Putnam says. "It's just getting worse and worse."
Putnam says he wants the park vandals to know that at the end of the day, taxpayers are footing the bill for the damage.
"I just want them to know I'm really upset about it and they're clearly damaging city property that ultimately costs them and everyone else, the taxpayers, to repair," he says. "It's a self-defeating process."
Putnam says the city is aware of the increase in vandalism, and officials are meeting internally to address it. He says there will be more patrols of city parks as the weather warms up.
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