The Lions Club is pleading with the public to stop vandalizing the derby grounds in Fernie, B.C. This comes after recent reports of vandalism and campfires on the property, which is also known as the Gymkhana grounds.
The property has seen vandalism of varying degrees over the year. However, wooden pallets and other party paraphernalia have been found recently.
“Right now there is a pile of pallets that they are getting ready to burn and a bunch of tires sitting there,” said Chuck Shoesmith of the Lions Club. “It seems to be escalating and sooner or later they are going to burn the kitchen down or start a grass fire. They hang out there and drink, party and smash things. It’s not good.”
City of Fernie’s Fire Chief Ted Ruiter is aware of the activity on the grounds, and says the Fire Department has responded to numerous campfires on the property.
“We have responded to three or four where they are either unattended or they see us coming and they take off,” he told The Free Press.
Shoesmith says the vandalism has left the Lions Club with a heavy price tag to repair the damage.
“It’s not just what it costs, it’s also lots of volunteer hours. It’s a substantial amount of money and we are worried about it escalating,” he said. “If we earn $40,000 for charity but we are spending $10,000 or $15,000, we are spending more than 25 per cent of what we earn in a year just to compensate for the vandalism costs. That’s out of line and pretty soon people won’t volunteer their time to build and fix things that just get smashed by kids.”
The Lions Club is a guest of the property, which is owned by Trico Homes. According to Shoesmith, they are looking at options to curb the vandalism.
“[Trico Homes] have some concerns. They are thinking about fencing it and getting a caretaker. They’re just in the process of deciding what to do,” said Shoesmith. “The main plea from the Lions Club is to please stop vandalizing the derby grounds.”
A collection of wooden pallets and old tires has been noticed at the derby grounds. – Fernie Fire Department photo