A slew of vandalism that recently caused thousands of dollars in damage has left Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail Society dismayed and in need of help.
Eight concrete memorial benches that had provided solace along the trail’s Lighthouse Loop section for roughly 20 years were found destroyed on the morning of March 13, according to the society’s president Barbara Schramm.
“This was a concerted attack,” Schramm told the Westerly News. “These are, by and large, memorial benches given as donations to commemorate lost family members. It’s just insane to think of attacking such a thing…The other part of it is, the benches themselves offer a place for the public to connect with the healing powers of nature. They’re just wonderful little refuges.”
She said the benches are made of concrete and weigh roughly 450 kilograms each, yet the vandals managed to roll four off a cliff, while three were rolled over and destroyed and one was “smashed to pieces.”
Trail users reported seeing the benches intact and accounted for the evening prior, leading the society to believe the destruction occurred overnight.
Schramm said all eight benches were damaged past the point of repair.
“They’re toast. Even if we could move them properly, we can’t repair them,” she said, “We’re committed to replacing them, but it’s going to cost thousands.”
The benches cost roughly $1,000 each and the society is calling on fans of the iconic Wild Pacific Trail to lend a hand in replacing them. Donations can be made at www.wildpacifictrail.com/donate.html.
“Our motto is “inspiration through nature”,” Schramm said. “[Trail manager] Oyster Jim [Martin] designed the trail to be viewed and experienced in small, reflective pieces. It’s not a one-off experience; it’s little vignettes, little postcards he calls them. And, the benches anchor all these spots. So, when you see a bench, that’s purposely put there to introduce you to that little experience. They need replacing as soon as we can.”
She added the thoughtless act of vandalism has left society members feeling “outraged” and added that the society has been struggling to deter people from carving on benches and trees and has had trouble with vandals hitting the children’s interpretative signage at Big Beach Park.
“We’re constantly fighting this mentality that people want to leave a destructive mark and it’s frankly difficult to maintain optimism when these things happen,” she said. “We’ll recover, but it’s very draining to the spirit of a volunteer…It’s very disheartening.”
She said the RCMP is investigating and has been asked to increase their patrols of both the lighthouse area and Big Beach.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious around Amphitrite Point on the night of March 12 is urged to contact the Ucluelet RCMP at 250-726-7773.