During his morning walk Monday, Doug Stanger was dismayed to discover graffiti sprayed on rocks along the Alouette River.
A person or persons used bright orange paint and sprayed hearts and other symbols along the rocks at Hot Rocks, a popular summer destination for locals.
He made the discovery at around 9:10 a.m. on April 12, with his wife and a couple of neighbours who walk together daily.
“We go seven days a week,” he said of his walking group. The graffiti wasn’t there Sunday morning and, he added, another of his neighbours was at the location Sunday afternoon at about 2 p.m. and there was still no graffiti.
So, he suspects, it was sprayed on the rocks sometime after that.
Stanger said the area is not immune to graffiti, but he hasn’t seen any this year until now.
“The hot rocks is such a beautiful area and it’s a very favourite spot for people all over Maple Ridge and beyond to go and use, sitting on the rocks,” he said.
Stanger, treasurer with Alouette River Management Society, is also concerned that the industrial spray paint that was used will slowly wash off into the South Alouette, which is a very important salmon spawning river.
At the moment, he noted there would not be salmon spawning there, but there would be some trout.
So, he sent a picture to the city parks department to see if there is any safe way to remove the paint without contaminants getting into the river.
Another local resident, Beth Polovick, was also upset after seeing the orange paint on the rocks.
“As landowners for 43 years, backing onto Hot Rocks and the Alouette River, we have seen a massive increase in the amount of people visiting the river,” said Polovick in a letter to The News.
“If you see acts of graffiti vandalism, please record it.
“Maybe if these vandals know that we are watching and trying to protect our little part of paradise , they will think twice about defacing our beautiful natural part of the world,” she said.
The City of Maple Ridge issued a statement saying a crew had been dispatched to the Hot Rocks to determine what will be required to remediate the site to its original condition while protecting the watercourse.
The crew will also be collecting any evidence at the site to turn over to the RCMP to determine if the people responsible can be identified and held accountable for this vandalism.
“The Hot Rocks site has been a favourite place for First Nations people and later settlers. The Maple Ridge Museum and Archives has archive photos of the earliest settlers to the community using this space in the summer for recreation,” explained Valoree Richmond, director of parks and facilities with the city.
“It is very disappointing to see this beloved natural space vandalized in this way,” added Richmond.
Polovick was happy to see a city crew removing the paint on Tuesday, April 13.
However, she added, there are other concerns she has about the South Alouette.
She noted that when Golden Ears Provincial Park is at capacity during the summer, people end up at the Hot Rocks, Davidson’s Pool, and Maple Ridge Park.
“There is no crowd control here!!! In the summer there is wall to wall, (bank to bank), tubers floating down the river. We need more police presence and eyes on this area of Maple Ridge from April to November,” she declared, adding that people haul in supplies to the area, but unfortunately, don’t haul them out.
Stanger is also concerned about tubing in the South Alouette.
“It’s been absolutely chaotic here in the summer months,” he said. Visitors park across the street from his house and he sees lots of open alcohol and empty containers being thrown into the bush or the river.
Then,”they buy the cheapest tubes so that they usually puncture in the river and they leave them in the river or throw them up on the banks and it’s a huge clean up mess.”
“It’s a huge problem trying to get the message out every year about responsible tubing,” he added.
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