Vandalism has reached new and unpleasant heights at Langley City’s Penzer Action Park, home to Canada’s largest outdoor Parkour course.
On Monday June 15, following repeated incidents where doors to the park washrooms were kicked in and the interior vandalized, staff won approval from council to spend just over $15,000 on force-resistant metal-reinforced doors.
On Tuesday night June 16, the vandals returned, parks manager Jonn Epplette reported.
‘We had a huge amount of vandalism,” Epplette related.
“Both washrooms were vandalized, doors completely kicked in, soap dispensers smashed, soap refills sprayed all over the walls, feces all over the floor, three trees damaged and every [social distancing] sign that was placed [the day before] has been destroyed,” Epplette described.
In a report to City council, Rick Bomhof, director of engineering, parks and environment said since the re-opening of the Penzer washrooms on May 19, the park has experienced a “higher volume of vandalism.”
“Washroom design, typically, includes inward opening doors which is what is provided at Penzer Park; however, the door lock and mechanism will break with rigorous kicking,” Bomhof noted.
After a similar round of vandalism at the Linwood Park washroom, the City installed outward swinging doors of a design similar to the Penzer doors in April, and they have proven to be a success, Bomhof wrote.
Bomhof said the parks department was also planning on installing vandal-resistant doors at Rotary Centennial Park this summer prior to its re-opening.
Surveillance cameras to deter vandalism are considered a last resort, Bomhof explained, something that would be installed only after exhausting less privacy-invasive alternatives like the outward swinging doors.
Bomhof called the situation “frustrating” and the extent of damage to the washroom interiors “disgusting.”
He appealed to residents in the area to keep an eye out for any questionable activity in the park and to report it to police immediately.
“As you can imagine, there must have been quite a racket when the doors were being kicked in,:” Bomhof commented.
Penzer Action Park at 198C Street and 47A Avenue reopened in 2017 after undergoing a $1.3 million re-do with $500,000 coming from the federal government and $800,000 from the City.
The former baseball diamond and soccer pitch now features a Parkour facility believed to be the biggest of its kind in Canada, a 10,000-square foot collection of wooden forms to accommodate a sport where competitors navigate obstacles by running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, and other movements.
Its greater than expected popularity forced the City to accelerate other planned upgrades, like the washrooms, to accommodate the influx of visitors.