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Sundre's new pathway lighting project largely destroyed

Sundre RCMP close file on vandalism to municipal project in Lions Park in absence of witnesses or evidence

SUNDRE — Almost no sooner did the municipality complete a pathway lighting project along the Prairie Creek trail, were the brand new lights subsequently nearly all damaged or destroyed.

In all, there were 20 lights included in the project, which also spanned through Lions Park, located immediately south of the pedestrian bridge over the Bearberry Creek.

The project was officially completed on June 20. But shortly thereafter, 17 of the lights were vandalized during the week of June 24, Justin Caslor, the municipality’s director of infrastructure, told the Albertan by email in response to questions.

“All the lights have been removed,” said Caslor, adding local Mounties as well as the municipality’s peace officer were involved in the investigation.

The pathway lighting project was expected to cost about $70,000, an expense covered by a federal grant program called the Canada Community Building Fund, which enables municipalities to support local infrastructure improvements or upgrades, he said.

The lights were unfortunately not insured, he said, adding the municipality will “reassess the project and look at some other options.”

The project was developed with the primary objective of improving visibility and by extension public safety along the Lions Park and Prairie Creek pathways, which can become particularly dark during certain times – especially in the winter.

“This concern was brought forward from numerous public requests and is part of the (municipality’s) overall Parks, Open Space and Trails strategy,” he said.  

Whether the grant funding will need to be reimbursed or if the lights will eventually be replaced – or not – remains to be decided.  

“The town is in discussions with the funding program on next steps in this situation,” he said.

Linda Nelson, chief administrative officer, told the Albertan during a phone interview that council will ultimately have to choose a path forward.

“It would be something that council would be making a decision on,” said Nelson, adding that discussion will have to balance the risk of any replacement project being destroyed again with the benefit of a project intended to make the pathway more appealing for residents.

“(The project) was to address the safety concerns that had been brought forward…to create a safer place for people to walk in the evening,” she said.

“Some people work during the day and they don’t have the chance to get out and do their walking until it’s getting dark out.”

There was a lot of effort put in by municipal staff over the course of a couple of years to fill out proposals and grant applications, she said.  

“That’s a lot of work, putting grant applications together,” she said.

“It’s just unfortunate that it happened,” she added. “We’ll still continue our effort to beautify the community and create nice spaces for our residents.”

Sgt. Trent Sperlie, the Sundre RCMP department’s commander, told the Albertan his detachment received the report on June 25.

“Members canvassed nearby residents and seized some of the debris for a fingerprint analysis,” he said.

Those efforts unfortunately did not yield any clues, and no surveillance footage was captured by any nearby residents, he said.

“None of the investigational avenues resulted in evidence to support charges and the file has been concluded.” 

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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