Tracy Holmes photo                                 Const. Chantal Sears speaks with Geraldine Howe, a resident of the White Rock Square complex west of Bryant Park regarding concerns with drug paraphernalia (foreground) and unsavoury individuals and activities in the area.

Tracy Holmes photo Const. Chantal Sears speaks with Geraldine Howe, a resident of the White Rock Square complex west of Bryant Park regarding concerns with drug paraphernalia (foreground) and unsavoury individuals and activities in the area.

Hate-crime unit investigating graffiti in White Rock park

Fascist emblem left in Bryant Park not the only concern, residents say

The Mounties’ hate-crimes unit is investigating in White Rock, after a swastika was spray-painted on a tree and a boulder in the city’s Bryant Park.

Photos of the graffiti were forwarded to the team after police were alerted to their appearance in the uptown greenspace Sunday, said Const. Chantal Sears.

It’s unclear who left the emblem, which, in modern days, is synonymous with fascism.

As well, “it doesn’t appear to be targeting anyone,” Sears said.

Sears said BC Hate Crimes Team will examine such things as the paint used and the style of the graffiti to try to identify the culprit.

Such incidences are not common in White Rock, she added.

“First time in two years that I’ve been in White Rock that I’ve seen anything like that,” Sears said.

The graffiti has been painted over, however, area residents say it is just one of many concerning activities in and around the park, off Russell Avenue, in recent weeks.

Stacey Wilson, who lives in the nearby Miramar Village, said drug deals are often seen, and everything from syringes to sleeping bags have been found left behind.

Geraldine Howe, a resident of the White Rock Square complex located on the park’s west side, said she found drug paraphernalia under an outdoor staircase of her building Sunday morning. Wednesday morning, two syringes, a lighter, dime baggies and a blue vial remained scattered in the area.

“This is such a big problem,” Howe said. “I worry about the safety for the people living right beside it or on the ground floor.”

Sears said that police records do not show an increase in calls regarding Bryant Park. At the same time, “we have made a conscious effort to let our officers know there have been some concerns raised,” she said.

While Howe told Sears she is hesitant to call police about such incidents as found needles – she mentioned the latest discovery to a pair of community police bike patrol members Wednesday morning because she happened to see the volunteers – Sears said they should always be reported.

“The more people that call, that’s how we make change,” she told Howe.

She cautioned Howe against cleaning up the paraphernalia, however – the risks are too high.

“It’s dangerous. We don’t know what’s in it… or what diseases,” Sears said. “I just assume the needles have HIV in them. HIV and fentanyl.”

Mark Krier, a strata president at Miramar, told Peace Arch News last month that Miramar residents took it on themselves to organize a cleanup campaign for the park, and to encourage proactive reporting to police.

A two-page letter posted in the buildings’ elevators encouraged residents to contact police if they spot anything untoward, and Wilson said Thursday that things have improved during the day and early evening hours over the past week.

City communications co-ordinator Ashley Gregerson told PAN that a contractor does a weekly patrol of the area, as well as call-out response, to deal with incidents of graffiti.

Personal items or drug paraphernalia left behind are matters for police, she said, as staff are not trained in handling potentially hazardous material.

Sears said anyone spotting crime in progress at the park should call 911. Found items such as drug paraphernalia can be reported to the non-emergency line, at 778-593-3600.

 

Drug paraphernalia found under outdoor stairs located between the two White Rock Square buildings on Foster Street. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Drug paraphernalia found under outdoor stairs located between the two White Rock Square buildings on Foster Street. (Tracy Holmes photo)