Vandalism takes its toll

Some Waskasoo Park shelters may lose their wood construction in exchange for steel or products resistant to fire and other forms of vandalism.

Mike Csordas and his sons Anthony and jamie and their dog Ginger walk past the closed pavilion at McKenzie Trail Recreation Area on Monday. The pavilion has been closed since a fire nearly destroyed the structure earlier this year.

Some Waskasoo Park shelters may lose their wood construction in exchange for steel or products resistant to fire and other forms of vandalism.

City Parks superintendent Trevor Poth said on Monday that the vandalism damage has been so severe at one shelter this summer that it’s closed for the year.

Struck three times by fire in the spring, the McKenzie Trail shelter in the McKenzie Trail Recreation area is now closed, Poth said.

The fires got progressively worse and caused so much structural damage the third time that the shelter was closed near the end of June.

Vandalism has hit several other shelters and park areas through the year, Poth added.

“We’ve had the fires that struck shelters and wood bins but there’s also been graffiti and broken signs,” he said.

It’s not unusual to have a fire bad enough to ignite the roof but the McKenzie shelter was hit hard.

Overall, damage costs this year are on a par with recent years, he said.

The department is examining replacing the basic wooden structures with steel. Building costs would be higher.

Poth said the steel detracts from the park theme but in the long run will be the best for maintenance and more resistant to vandalism such as fire.

He said the department will examine all of its park structures, such as benches, garbage cans and signs, to determine if they require more vandalism-resistant components.

Graffiti was noticeable this spring between the Bower area and Kin Kanyon park, Poth said.

The McKenzie shelter will require a full replacement.

Shelters cost between $50,000 to $60,000 to build.

He said the intense heat damaged concrete footings as well and they will need replacing. Authorities believe the fire damage was caused by late-night partiers.

“Unfortunately, many shelters are well out of the regular sight lines.

“It makes for a beautiful park but there’s just not enough natural surveillance.”

Poth said sufficient surveillance is a concern. However, groups like the Red Deer Ski Patrol scan the trails in terms of first aid response and also the RCMP bike patrol runs into the late morning. Park bylaw officers and park caretakers work late as well.

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