Between June 27 and 28 a community project’s worksite had an estimated $1000 of materials stolen from a fenced off area on the jobsite.
Simon Piney, a member of the bridge committee and the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA), said he was disappointed by the theft.
“Someone decided overnight to go and steal some of the lumber from the site, which is incredibly disappointing to us,” he said.
While the decking of the project is complete, the area is still an active construction site and is physically closed off to the public.
“It was on the north side, where the Fairy Creek Pull out is, which is completely fenced off. They went through the fence to get to it and it was taken from beside the bridge,” said Piney. “The decking is done, so this was structural lumber that was part of the roofing project. A number of lengths of wood were taken and the trouble with that wood being taken is it is called Grade One lumber. It is really hard to source and is a special type of lumber, which is of the highest quality.”
Christopher Chorostecki of Larsen and Whelan Enterprises (LWE Builders) was the first to the project this morning and noticed the theft.
“The first thing I noticed when I pulled into the job today was that the fences were taken apart and not put together properly, which is no big deal, you can fix that easy enough,” he said.
At first, Chorostecki thought that it was just the fence moved, as the wood was under a tarp away from the highway, adjacent to the bridge.
“The job today was installing some of the long beams for the roof structure so I went and uncovered the woodpile and the wood was missing. There was one long beam missing and probably four short beams missing,” he said. “So immediately I realised someone had taken them and that is why the fence was molested.”
As Piney mentioned, the wood is not something that is generally stocked by hardware stores.
“It is Number One Fir, six by six. It is a custom order through Home Hardware. It is not like I can just go to the store to get a replacement piece to replace what was stolen which I need to do my job today,” said Chorostecki. “We may have to source it through a local mill, to source all the wood for this project was a big custom order that took some planning and ordering. The Home Hardware had to bring it in special for us.”
As of the morning of June 28, the FTA and LWE Builders are unsure as to how this will delay the project but Chorostecki believes it should not be more than a few hours.
“It won’t be a week delay or anything, but it is just really unfortunate. It is a Fernie Trails Alliance project it will be a beautiful thing to come into the City of Fernie and see this bridge but someone has come in and stole the wood,” he said. “I think that I will be able to move forward without the pieces and I will be able to go back and put them in at a later date. I should not be affected more than a couple hours of work by it.”
Piney wants to remind the community that this is a project built for them by a group that has limited resources.
“I think that what we really want to say to anyone that has done this and to anyone who is thinking of it is that this is a community project. The money has been raised through grants and volunteers. There is not some bottomless pot of money on this project. We are now going to have to go back to our budget and cut out something else we were going to do in order to replace this lumber,” he said. “This is not something that we can afford. It kills us, it’s a community project that had a lot of backing and volunteers have given thousands of hours of their time for no payment to work on this. It is just not acceptable for people to come in and start stealing stuff.”