The Salmon Arm Fairgrounds have been targeted by thefts and vandalism recently, despite attempts to thwart perpetrators.
Phil Wright, president of the Salmon Arm & Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association board, which leases the property from the city and puts on the fall fair, said the most recent incidents have struck a kitchen under the grandstands as well as the small dance building near the Roots & Blues entrance on the south side of the fairgrounds.
A person or persons kicked in the door of the kitchen, wrecking it and the surrounding wall, with their target apparently copper. Pipes were ripped out, chopped up and piled on the floor, but it appeared the thieves were interrupted before they made off with the pipes.
“That’s a major disruption,” Wright said, explaining the pipes are the feed for all the water heaters and will be difficult and expensive to repair. “That’s destruction, premeditated.”
On the May 4 weekend, a person or persons broke into the dance building. Music equipment was stolen, items were strewn around the facility, a sink was damaged and light bulbs were smashed. A male was found sleeping on a comforter on the floor, amidst the mess.
Wright said he thinks it’s a cross-section of people who are doing the damage.
He said while people who are homelesss may be involved, there are also young men who bring down their beer and have parties in the afternoon and at night.
“It’s a cross-sectional thing,” Wright said.
In January 2021, a meeting of city staff and politicians, RCMP, the fire department and social agencies was held to discuss a group approach to problems at the fairgrounds. At that meeting, it was noted that vandalism and mess have been issues there for several years.
Wright said no definite changes have been made yet, but he thinks a porta-potty is on the way, plus signs have been made to inform dog walkers that the fairgrounds are not a dog park, that it is open to all users so people will come and go, with gates opening and closing.
He said the association is glad to have the dog walkers there as they are more boots on the ground helping to keep an eye out for problems.
He also pointed out that Salmon Arm Security patrols the grounds at night, but they can’t be on site all the time.
Overall, he wants the “malaise of challenges” to be on the radar of citizens, so they can relay any problem behaviour to the police.
Wright also said such problems are happening throughout the area and he suspects they will get worse throughout the summer.
He is hopeful more solutions will come out of a joint meeting scheduled for later this month.