Edmonton police charge two males after New Year's Eve community league vandalism incident

Repairs from previous vandalism were almost complete at the Riverbend community league's Brookside Hall when it was hit again on New Year's Eve.

Riverbend community league's Brookside Hall heavily damaged Saturday

Pieces of drywall and ceiling tiles on the floor of a community hall damaged by vandals. Chairs and a table are strewn around in the mess.
Vandals caused heavy damage to the interior of Brookside Hall on the weekend. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Update: Two males have been charged by Edmonton police after Riverbend community league's Brookside Hall was vandalized, Edmonton police said on Jan. 26. 

A 15-year old Edmonton resident and a 19-year old from Spruce Grove, Alta,. each face one count of break-and-enter to commit mischief over $5,000 and theft under $5,000. 

Police continue to investigate the incident and are asking anyone with relevant information or video to come forth. 

A week before it was set to reopen after being vandalized in October, the hall in southwest Edmonton was heavily damaged by vandals over the weekend.

Brookside Hall, one of two rental spaces operated by the Riverbend community league, was vandalized during the early hours of New Year's Eve.

League president Miep Raedschelders said the damage is extensive.

Vandals tore down a suspended ceiling and smeared floors with paint. Someone spray-painted racial slurs on the walls. Bathroom fixtures, an electric range and other kitchen appliances were smashed. Wiring and plumbing was also damaged.

"There is really no aspect of the hall that was left untouched," Raedschelders told CBC's Edmonton AM on Monday. 

"It's heartbreaking, really."

A community league in Edmonton's southwest is picking up the pieces after vandals destroyed its newly renovated hall. We'll talk with the league's President, Miep Raedschelders, about the damage.

The building, at 5320 143rd St., had recently been renovated with new flooring after being vandalized in October. In that incident, the floor and ceiling were damaged after a fire extinguisher was discharged on everything in the hall.

"The damage is far worse than the first time around, so it's going to be quite some time before our hall is able to open up," Raedschelders said. 

Side by side photos of destroyed toilets in a bathroom and kitchen appliances toppled over.
Vandalism damage to a bathroom and the kitchen at Brookside Hall. (Miep Raedschelders)
A damaged sink and spilled paint inside a bathroom. The mirror has been smashed and spray-painted.
Vandals who trashed the interior of Brookside Hall on the weekend smashed a bathroom sink and mirror and spilled paint on the floor and walls. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Edmonton police responded to the break-and-enter at 10:38 a.m. on Saturday. Although they don't have any suspects yet, police said they are continuing to investigate. 

In the meantime, all community league programs and events continue to be on hold. They include skating, play groups for moms and toddlers, and Girl Guides of Canada and Pathfinders meetings.

Ward pihêsiwin Coun. Tim Cartmell said he was shocked to see the level of destruction.

"This seems a bit beyond mischievous vandalism; it just feels different," Cartmell told CBC. "This one just seems so vicious."

He said after the league has gone through the right processes, including insurance, he will lend his voice to rally people when the league needs volunteers and financing. 

"In a weird way, this can be that event that really strengthens a community, because this will not defeat this community league by any stretch," Cartmell said.

Community leagues are volunteer-run organizations. Raedschelders said it takes years of fundraising, grant applications and volunteer hours for projects to get completed. 

"To see it all washed away. It certainly is a bit demoralizing," she said.

"I don't even know really where to go with this next. I mean, thank goodness we have a decent, or a very good, relationship with our insurance company."

Because the community league didn't have its own surveillance video footage, police are seeking camera images from anyone who was in the area of 53rd Avenue and 143rd Street early on Saturday.

"We'd be very appreciative because we'd hate to see this happen to other halls or other communities in Edmonton," Raedschelders said.

The community league also operates Riverbend community centre on Rhatigan Road East.

Side by side photos of an empty hall and the same hall completely destroyed including the roof.
Before and after photographs of the Riverbend community league's Brookside Hall, which was damaged by vandals early on New Year's Eve. (Nancy Wendt, Miep Raedschelders)


Kashmala Fida Mohatarem is a reporter and associate producer with CBC Edmonton.