WATCH: Disturbing Esquimalt wire theft causes massive damage at Gorge Park and taxpayers will be footing the bill. Tess van Straaten reports.
A popular Esquimalt park will be in the dark for the foreseeable future, after a disturbing theft.
“Right now we’re attempting to determine the extent of the damage and what repairs are necessary,” says Jeff Miller, Esquimalt director of public works and engineering.
Sometime overnight, under the cover of darkness, thieves after copper wire targetted Gorge Park.
Work was being done in the park so power was disconnected and investigators say the thieves knew exactly where to go so they wouldn’t be detected.
[N”You look at the area, it’s obscured, and you look at where the offence happened and they sort of stop at the edge of the bush where you come into lines of sight from the houses around,” explains Victoria Police Insp. Keith Lindner.
Taxpayers on hook for extensive damage that only netted thieves a few hundred dollars
In all, the wires were ripped out of eight vintage lamp posts — but the vandalism caused extensive damage.
“The way they went about it is forcing us to look at trying to replace the entire system,” says Miller. “They disconnected the wire at the junction boxes and by doing that, they removed any possibility for us to have a quick fix.”
The 36 light posts in the park are all interconnected, so it’s likely a new feed line will have to be run to all of the lights and that’s not cheap.
Initial estimates to fix the damage — or replace the lights altogether — is around $100,00 to $200,000.
“My reaction is frustration and vandalism is frustrating to begin with because it’s senseless destruction and this is going to affect others,” says Esquimalt mayor Barb Desjardins.
Making it all the more senseless, it looks like the thieves only got away with a few hundred dollars’ worth of copper.
The Township of Esquimalt was starting to replace the lights as part of a five-year renewal program but the work now can’t wait.
“It’s a safety issue and we want to be careful and make sure people are aware of the lighting and that it’s not there,” Desjardins says.
Police will be stepping up patrols in the area until the lights are fixed.
It’s not yet clear how long that will take.