Kathy Park found out the hard way that it’s not only discarded needles that people have to watch out for while in the Cowichan Valley’s green spaces.
Park, who lives on Hykawy Road in southern Duncan, had a family visit her home on Aug. 30 that included three young kids, aged seven to 11.
She said the children went to play at Maplewood Park, a small district park near her house. One of them discovered a small and benign looking pink tube on a key chain with a spray nozzle that turned out to be pepper spray.
The young girl picked it up to see what it was, and managed to get some of the spray in her eye.
“She ran as fast she could to my house and was terrified,” Park said.
“Fortunately, one of the guests was a paramedic from Winnipeg and he calmed her down and washed her eye out. Another one of the children had gotten some of the spray on his chin, which turned bright red, and he got a shower to wash it off. Needless to say, the incident terminated the visit and the family went home.”
Park said she was perturbed by the incident and wanted to get the word out to the public that people should be on the lookout for discarded pepper spray bottles.
“This pepper spray bottle was pink and looked inviting to a child,” she said.
“People should tell their kids not to pick up things that look like toys. I found the whole experience very frightening.”
RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said pepper spray and bear spray are allowed in Canada as long as they are not being used in the course of a criminal offence.
However, he said they can only be carried if justified.
“A lone person going into a bank with a large can of bear spray with no dog and no plans of hiking nearby may cause concern and we may be called,” Manseau said.
“We would likely attend, make a determination on what their intentions are, and if necessary have the item turned over to police.”