When James Moran saw the muddy, gouged-out tracks, he immediately knew what had happened since he last visited the lower section of Williams Park in Langley with his dogs, Cassie and Athena.
It wasn’t the first time people on ATVs had invaded the Langley Township park at 68 Avenue and 238 Street, which has signs banning off-road vehicles from the wooded areas.
What surprised Moran, who lives near Williams Park, was the extent of the damage this time.
“Every single path in the (lower) park,” Moran said as he walked a Times reporter through the area Tuesday afternoon.
“This is just so wanton.”
It appeared there were two ATVs that were driven along the narrow footpaths through the lower park below the picnic and play areas, somehow managing to navigate the pedestrian-only footbridge over the Salmon River, then cutting deep ruts into the river bank where they splashed across the fish-bearing stream.
The riders did doughnuts in the open field near the river, making sloppy, wide circles and digging up dirt and grass.
They’d even gone up the steps that lead to the rear exit from the park, scraping bark off tree trunks, and digging into the ground near the roots by spinning their wheels.
It happened some time during the recent heavy snowfall, after Moran and his dogs had visited the park on Sunday.
“They may have been joyriding, but they have vandalized this park to the point of (criminality),” Moran said.
He has reported the incident to the Township bylaw enforcement office, but is not optimistic anyone will be held responsible.
“It’s one thing to suspect, it’s another to get proof,” Moran said.
Township staff were on the scene Wednesday, conducting an assessment of the damage. Repairs will likely be covered by the vandalism contingency funds within the parks operating budget.
It’s far from the first incident of ATV-related vandalism at Williams Park.
Moran said he knows of at least two other cases where all-terrain vehicles have gone roaring through the park in recent years.
A spokesperson for the Quad Riders Association of B.C., which has more than 3,000 members province-wide, condemned the vandalism.
Aldergrove resident Jason Couture, the second vice-president, said the association “adamantly” opposes such illegal activities, which do not represent the attitude of the majority of responsible ATV riders.
“It’s like any other sport, there’s that one or two per cent who ruin it for everyone else,” Couture said.
The association website at atvbc.ca states the association supports the principles of a sustainable environment and “will not consciously carry out or support any activities that will lead to a detrimental effect on the diverse ecosystems of our province.”