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COVID-19 sign vandals plague Coquitlam parks

Town Centre, Mundy and Como Lake parks have been hit by sign vandalism in recent weeks, causing extra work for staff who have to clean or replace them; signs reminding people about COVID-19 safety are the hardest hit

Vandals are destroying COVID-19 safety signs at Coquitlam parks, creating extra work and cost for staff who have to replace or clean them.

It’s a problem parks manager Kathleen Reinheimer has noticed, particularly in recent weeks.

In September and October, Town Centre Park was the hardest hit and Coquitlam RCMP tried to identify the individual who painted the word “hoax” on a number of COVID-19 safety signs.

Como Lake and Mundy parks are the most recent location of sign vandalism, according to Reinheimer, who said that in every case a police report was filed and the signs replaced.

The destroyed signs were mostly the COVID regulatory ones, encouraging people to physically distance and wash their hands along with directional arrows encouraging people to walk one way through a park trail, Reinheimer said in an email to the Tri-City News.

She wouldn't say how many signs have been destroyed.

However, in some cases, according to Reinheimer, the word “hoax” just “wipes off” and the city isn’t keeping track of how many times this has been done.

Coquitlam RCMP still hasn’t identified the man behind a recent spate of sign vandalism, according to spokesperson Const Deanna Law, but law breakers can still get into trouble if caught.

Mayor Richard Stewart has also been reported as warning vandals they could face consequences for destroying signs.

Still it doesn’t appear the sign vandals are getting their message across, if that’s their intent.

A visit to Como Lake Park on Gatensbury Street on Thursday, Jan. 14 found the park busy with everyone walking in one direction along the lake trail. Signs were prominently placed in the park that was full of people walking their dogs and strolling with kids in tow — even on a cloudy, cool winter day.

While vandalism has been a problem at some parks, at others, crowds have been an issue.

Residents along Karley Crescent and the north end of Shaughnessy Street recent told Coquitlam council they’ve had enough with the traffic tie-ups, littering and loitering at the Crystal Falls trailhead, close to their homes.

— with files from Janis Cleugh