For years, Ron Vanderplas has been allowing dirt bikes to utilize the BC Hydro power line trail running across the front of his Davidson Road property.
That won’t happen now, after a group of young teenagers on dirt bikes vandalized his property Tuesday, Aug. 23.
“I even made a trail through the blackberries for the bikes, because I was allowing everybody to go through,” he said. “I said ‘As long as you keep it down and put-put through, I don’t have a problem with it’, but this handful of kids just don’t give a crap. They just rip things up and then they complain when you shut it down.”
Spray painted on the logs and boulders in the front of his driveway were messages such as ‘F-U’, ‘Please move’ and ‘Never gonna stop’. On several occasions, the riders have ripped doughnuts in his driveway, he said. He says he is now looking to put up a fence, but anticipates further vandalism.
“They are destroying private property and nobody cares, and this time, with all their graffiti, it’s gone too far,” Vanderplas said. “I want everybody in town to know what kind of kids they’re raising.”
Vanderplas said he has tried to explain to the riders that he is no longer allowing them to cross his property, to no avail.
“I’ve tried to work with these guys,” he said. “All I get is yelling from them about it being a power line.”
“There’s tons of trails behind our property that they could go through, it’s not necessary for them to come through,” he added.
Ted Olynyk, Vancouver Island community relations manager for BC Hydro explained that in cases like Vanderplas’, the landowner has final say over who uses the power line trails running through the property.
“BC Hydro has right of way agreements with property owners where we will be allowed to put lines over property, but the property still remains with the owner. We’re just paying for the right to have our lines over the property,” he said. “It’s wrong to assume that because there are power lines on the property that the property below the lines is open for public access. Even if it’s Crown land, there may be restrictions.”
“People should always check to see who owns the property they decide to use, regardless of what they decide to do on the property; whether it’s bikes, ATV’s or simply walking.”
The Ladysmith RCMP issued a press release on the incident August 26.
“This is definitely a localized problem with some of our younger male youths and adults. As there have been acts of mischief and vandalism at the location, the detachment is seeking assistance in identifying the possible culprit(s),” wrote Staff Sgt. Roger Plamondon. “All of us need to work co-operatively to overcome the problems.”
Cpl. Tim Desaulniers said the mischief is a criminal offense and they are currently investigating.
“We haven’t taken enforcement on motorcycles on the Hydro line, that’s been our past practice. Whether or not that’s going to change because of these circumstances, that’s something we’re going to have to look at.”