A north Nanaimo neighbourhood will have to start over with a beautification project after an act of vandalism that destroyed dozens of trees and decorative shrubs.
The vandalism happened sometime overnight Monday on the Seabold Walkway pedestrian path that connects Groveland Drive with Dickinson Road.
The City of Nanaimo and neighbourhood volunteers planted about 100 trees and shrubs alongside the path in the fall of 2019.
Adam Hunter, who resides in the neighbourhood and remembers the day the trees and shrubs were planted, was among those who happened upon the destruction Tuesday.
“I think it’s rotten that someone would do this kind of thing, but it happens,” Hunter said. “I was walking along and I was thinking these trees will be starting to bud soon and then I kind of looked and said, ‘Wait a minute. Where are they?’”
He said most of the plants had been hacked down.
“There’s a few along at the top end that are still in one piece, but there’s a whole swath in the middle that are gone,” he said.
Patrick McIntosh, city urban forestry coordinator, said the city is still deciding how it will deal with the situation. He recalled the day everything was planted.
“We had arranged some grant money and there was a community group, actually headed by the local 7-Eleven, and the Dover Bay Eco Club that met there on a real rainy day, but everybody planted it up; everything looked great,” McIntosh said. “Everybody was super happy.”
The city cared for and watered the plants, but in the summer of 2020, McIntosh said, someone lopped the tops off of about 20 per cent of the trees. The plants were damaged two or three more times prior to the more extensive damage discovered Wednesday. McIntosh speculates it’s likely one person causing the damage, but has no idea who that might be. All of the plants were native species.
“It looks like somebody just went in and took down pretty much everything, 80 or 90 per cent, of it,” he said. “It really makes no sense … there were flowering shrubs, red flowering currant, would have been just ready to blossom.”
McIntosh estimates it could cost $2,000 to $3,000 to replace the plants.
“I think, from our perspective, we’re probably going to double down. We’re going to put up some signs that say we’re watching, this is vandalism and it’s punishable by fines,” he said. “We’re going to replant and care for these and ask anybody just to call out if anybody knows anything.”
He said he will meet with his managers in the city about how best and how quickly the plants can be replaced.
“Maybe it actually would be a good idea to get a volunteer group organized again, which would have a [city] staff cost as well, but that might just be a good thing … to see peoples’ smiling faces making it better might really make whoever the culprit is think twice,” McIntosh said.