Okanagan city digs in heels over metal detector in parks

A man with a metal detector has been ordered to stop digging holes in Okanagan parks, even though he is removing items like nails and bullets.

Doug Arnison told to stop digging holes because of possible tripping hazards

Doug Arnison says all of the above items were found when digging in front of the band shell in Vernon's Polson Park. (Doug Arnison)

A man with a metal detector has been ordered to stop digging holes in Okanagan parks, even though he is removing items like nails and bullets.

Doug Arnison said he originally started metal detecting to find historical artifacts like coins, but found much more than that in Vernon, B.C.

"I've pulled live ammo shells, bullets, out of Polson Park," said Arnison.

"I've taken them home, dumped the gunpowder out and ... it lights. So they're live shells and they're in the ground."

Arnison said he has also found used needles, staples and metal tent pegs, but he was recently ordered to stop the activity.

In a Facebook post, he writes that bylaw officers won't allow him to use his metal detector "in all parks in the North Okanagan Regional District."

"I don't see any of them [bylaw officers] picking up nails ... or live ammo in the grass," reads the online post. 

"I've found all this and more where your children play. I feel it's my civic duty. I have children as well."

'Liability problem for the City of Vernon'

The post has received dozens of comments in Arnison's favour, but the City of Vernon stands by its order calling it a liability issue.

"The digging up of sod on a playing field or in a public park could create a trip hazard and a liability problem for the City of Vernon," said Geoff Gaucher, manager of protective services.

"I understand what he wants to do, but it's not possible to give him permission to do it and then not others."

Gaucher also said parks staff and bylaw officers patrol the parks daily and remove any dangerous objects.

He encourages metal detector users to instead patrol the beach where sand can be easily replaced and filled.

But Arnison argued the rule has "no common sense to it."

"I thought it would be a good thing to do for the city. They could advertise the cleanest parks in British Columbia."

With files from CBC's Radio West

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.