British Columbia

Mayor asks for calm as anger toward alleged youth vandals mounts in Prince Rupert, B.C.

The mayor of Prince Rupert, B.C., asks for healing after six youth were arrested for allegedly vandalizing a new playground.

Residents call for curfews and surveillance cameras after series of petty crimes

Six people have been arrested in connection to vandalsim at a new playground in Prince Rupert, B.C. The playground's opening was delayed three times due to vandalism and damage during construction. (Tyler Portelance)

The mayor of Prince Rupert, B.C., is asking for calm after residents began issuing calls on social media for city-wide curfews, public shaming and surveillance in reaction to vandalism at a new playground. 

The crime is the latest in a series of incidents of mischief throughout the North Coast city that have caused thousands of dollars in damage.

It is not known whether the incidents are linked, and no charges have been laid, but six youths were arrested Wednesday in connection to spray-painting at a vacant building elsewhere in the city.

Police said they believe the suspects are connected to the vandalism at the new playground, but noted that the investigation is ongoing. 

Prince Rupert resident Tyler Portelance noticed the graffiti Wednesday morning at the Mariners Park playground, which opened in November and was funded by a variety of community groups. 

Portelance's posts on Facebook about the vandalism racked up hundreds of comments and shares in just hours. (Tyler Portelance)

The playground's opening was delayed several times due to vandalism during construction, which added approximately $15,000 to the overall costs. 

"It got me a little riled up," Portelance said.

"To have something that's so special to a lot of people destroyed like that … it affects everybody," he said. "That's something we've waited on for a long time."

Portelance recorded a short video showing the damage and uploaded it to Facebook. It soon received hundreds of shares and comments from people demanding action be taken, ranging from public shaming of the alleged perpetrators to a city-wide curfew for all teenagers in the city. 

"It got a lot more feedback than I thought it was going to," Portelance said. 

In a public statement, Mayor Lee Brain asked people to refrain from vilifying those responsible for the vandalism. 

"Although I know many will want to meet these situations with anger, the truth is those responsible require our help in order to heal the patterns that lead them to these decisions," he wrote. "This means being firm by holding them accountable for their actions, but also finding constructive ways for them to see they can live respectfully and with dignity in our community." 

The consequences should be related to the crime.- Tyler Portelance

"Vilifying and meeting these people with anger will only continue the cycle."

The mayor also noted that within hours of the damage being done, volunteers joined city crews to help clean up the graffiti and said city council and staff would discuss steps to address concerns about crime in the community.

Though initially angry himself, Portelance agreed with Brain's sentiments about finding a constructive way to deal with whoever is responsible for the damage.

"All I really think it requires is having those involved actually get out in the community and do some of that cleaning [of the graffiti]," he said. 

"The consequences should be related to the crime, essentially."