Powell River RCMP are investigating the mass vandalism that took place at Dinner Rock campsite over Canada Day long weekend at the hands of a large group of campers from the Lower Mainland.
Campers left the idyllic oceanfront campground and beach strewn with broken glass and shell casings and covered the site’s rock bluffs with spray-painted tags on the Saturday night. The vandals painted nicknames, along with the word “Collingwood” and “East Van” crosses, with what RCMP described as an “excessive” amount of graffiti.
The campground, just south of Lund, is a provincial campground which is maintained by Tla’Amin (Sliammon) First Nation in agreement with Recreation Sites and Trails BC of the ministry of jobs, tourism and innovation.
RCMP Staff Sergeant Andy Brinton said the RCMP are looking to potentially charge the campers with criminal mischief along with careless use of a firearm and other firearms-related offences. While the ministry has turned over investigative duties to the RCMP because of the public safety issues, it may be able to charge the offenders under provincial legislation once they are identified.
One camper left a name and licence plate number with the camp’s maintenance workers, which RCMP are using as a starting point for their investigation.
Anthony Carroll, forest officer with the ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations, visited the site after park workers alerted the ministry about the vandalism. Some cleanup had already taken place but Carroll saw much of the broken glass and the .22-calibre shell casings. Carroll said this type of camper isn’t usually found at Dinner Rock and that it’s rare to hear of rowdy parties at the location.
“They just made a mess of it, but I think the tagging part was the main vandalism part,” said Carroll. “There’s obviously a potential public safety issue as well.”
Tyler Perry, who works for Tla’Amin to maintain the camp, said that on the first night the campers were respectful and quiet but that on their second night he heard from other campers that they “went completely wild.” Other campers heard them breaking bottles, discharging a firearm and chanting throughout the night.
The campers had left the site by the time Perry arrived to find the mess from the night before. He said the campers had cleaned up their own site but that the bluffs below were littered with trash, glass and spray-painted tags.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Perry. “Dinner Rock is a beautiful place and it’s always been pretty peaceful and quiet...This is the first incident of vandalism to this degree and it’s just a sad thing.”
Perry said he has spoken with officials from the ministry and with the RCMP about the incident. He said the incident puts him in an awkward position where in the future, when dealing with rowdy campers, he may feel compelled now to ask the RCMP to be involved.
“It’s not really meant for that, it’s a beautiful place that’s just meant for camping and a getaway,” said Perry. “What happened out there is really sad and I never want to see that happen again.”