Christmas is here, but crime doesn’t take a holiday.

This is something the Meadow Lake Lions Club has come to understand following the recent discovery of vandalism to the PineRidge Ford Amphitheatre.

“I don’t know how he/she did it, but some idiot broke some of the bricks off the front of the amphitheatre,” explained Lions Club member Nels Andersen. “They also sprayed graffiti on the back of it… Young people have no respect for themselves or for anything. The word ‘respect’ has pretty much disappeared out of our vocabulary.”

Andersen is also concerned about the use of snowmobiles in the park and the potential danger and damage this could cause.

“If they get on the running track and wreck it, we’re looking at thousands of dollars in damages,” he said. “There are signs in place, small signs, but we need bigger ones. Snowmobiles are allowed in town to go from ‘A’ to ‘B’, but the park is not to be used as a recreational area for them.”

He also said the club’s concerns have been reported to the RCMP and the city.
As for the amphitheatre, it was constructed about a decade ago to coincide with the 2012 Saskatchewan Summer Games.

“If the city has some bricks they can put back into there, great,” Andersen said. “It’s a glue-on brick type thing, and they may be able to patch it.”

He said the reason Lions Club members are so concerned about a venue that is the responsibility of the city boils down to the fact the Lions name is associated with the park overall.

“The park has our name, we built it, we financed it,” he said. “We put a lot of bucks in that thing – probably $1 million over the years – and it’s a pride and joy when it comes to recreation in the city. It needs to be looked after and more people need to start taking responsibility for their children. Every dollar that needs to be spent on repairs is $2 that can’t be spent here on something new.”

According to Lions Club president John Patterson, the city is looking into the situation.

“This has been passed on to (parks and recreation manager) Regan Beck, so let’s leave it in his hands for now,” Patterson said. “This whole thing is frustrating, it’s been continuous and I know Regan has been doing his best to look after it.”

According to Beck, efforts will be taken by the city to repair the damage.

“Most of the vandalism involved spray paint and graffiti, and we do have graffiti remover but it’s a little more difficult to complete a job like that when below zero temperatures,” he said. “It may have to wait until it’s a little warmer to get it all off.”

He also described the situation as an unfortunate reality when a park is open to everyone.

“We try our best to maintain it to the best of our ability, but there isn’t much we can do beyond that considering the park is not monitored 24/7,” he said. “As for the stonework, this is something that has happened before and we do have boxes of replacement stones which we can apply.”

According to S/Sgt. Ryan How, commanding officer at the Meadow Lake RCMP detachment, the police are frustrated to learn of the vandalism at the park.

“This behaviour is juvenile and senseless,” he said. “Lions Park has been an excellent host venue for many recent RCMP events and a great place for community gatherings. We encourage anyone with information on the damage to notify police as soon as possible. RCMP also encourage the public to report even minor vandalism anywhere in the area, it is very important to record as overall crime trends are assessed.”

by Phil Ambroziak