Preston Centre vandalism out of hand, says resident
Graffiti, broken bottles and garbage have become far too familiar sights at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Brookswood, says one concerned neighbour.
The man, who does not want to be identified for fear of reprisal, has been living near the recreation centre at 208 Street and 42 Avenue for more than 15 years. Although mischief and tailgate parties have not been uncommon at the property, recent activities have pushed him over the edge, he said last week.
On July 15, while out for a walk, the man discovered swastikas along with foul and racist language spray painted in the parking lot, broken glass littered everywhere and empty beer cans and other garbage dumped on the ground. All of this, in an area where young children often come to use the adjoining skateboard park and Langley BMX track.
“I feel that someone is going to get hurt,” he said.
Every evening he and his wife go on long walks through the area. At times, he said, he feels unsafe walking through the George Preston property.
“Sometimes I get butterflies in my stomach.
“Should I go through there or around?” he said.
“After dark, I would not want to walk through there.”
The man says he has called RCMP twice with concerns about the George Preston Centre. Once, three months ago, and a second time after the July 15 incident. He was told police would look into the issue.
This is not something that has gone unnoticed by staff at George Preston, said Norm Kassis, general manager of the centre, which is run by Recreation Excellence for the Township of Langley.
“Unfortunately, I have to say that yes we are aware of it and it is something that flares up from time to time in the area,” Kassis said.
“We definitely don’t turn a blind eye to it, in fact we have in the past ourselves gone out and asked them to leave and have involved community policing and RCMP as well.”
Kassis said they are “applying extra pressure on policing” and are also counting on neighbours to let them know what they are witnessing, especially after operating hours when staff are not around.
“It’s a problem we are definitely aware of that has flared up in the last few weeks, but it’s one that we are aggressively working on and one that we will not stop working on until it gets resolved,” he said.
Other initiatives, such as improving lighting and trimming back brush to open up the area have also been done in past years to help quell the parties.
“We’ve gone down this road before,” Kassis said.
“It’s a bit disruptive right now and we’re not very happy about it.
“But we are taking every step possible to eliminate the problem.”