The orange gate at the Churchill Drive entrance to Mount Douglas Park stands out with it’s unique colour and large oak leaf design. Now, there is only half a gate.
Sometime on Wednesday night, the gate was smashed. One half was cracked and the other sustained extensive damage.
The half of the gate with the most damage was removed and sent to be repaired by the company that fabricated it, says Andrew Burger, manager of parks operations with Saanich Parks and Recreation. The break was clean, so he thinks it can be fixed with some welding and won’t need to be replaced. A temporary chain was put up and he plans to have the gate re-installed by the end of next week.
The crack in the other half of the gate will get repaired on site later, he says.
Darrel Wick, President of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, speculates that a motorist crashed through the gate upon getting locked in the parking lot after 11 p.m. The gate is locked by the contracted security guard in the evening.
Wick isn’t hiding his disappointment.
“This was straight vandalism,” he says.
Wick arrived at the park early on Thursday morning and someone from Saanich Parks and Recreation was already on site.
Broken glass was found scattered on the ground near the broken gate. The tint of the glass leads all involved to believe that it came from the window of the car. Wick speculates that the gate swung back and smashed the window as the person drove through.
Burger says damage to Parks property isn’t uncommon, but Wick says to his knowledge, an incident like this has never occurred at the park and he has been part of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society for 30 years.
“The sad part is, this becomes an expense to Saanich Parks that would be better spent on improving the trails or on other parks,” he says. “We’re all losers in this.”
There is a number posted in the parking lot for people to to call if they get stuck behind the gate after the park closes, or people can leave their car until the morning, Wick explains. He hopes there will be a fine for the driver when they’re found. Security photos from the park may help track them down, he says, and if their window was indeed smashed, then they could be caught when they go in for a repair.
Burger says Saanich Parks and Recreation is working with the security company to gather the details of the incident. He says they do suspect someone drove through the gate because a large force would be required to break the gate, but nothing is concrete.