Vancouver Park Board is looking into its third act of vandalism in the last month after someone sawed the tops off dozens of trees at Langara Golf Course.
In total, 64 juvenile trees — sequoia, West Coast cedar, Douglas fir, Fraser fir and alder — were damaged over the last four weeks with more than 30 cut on the perimeter of the south end of the course over the weekend.
“The trees, which provide protection from errant golf balls to people walking the trails at Langara, as well as shade and habitat for birds and animals, are unlikely to recover from the damage and will have be replaced,” the park board said in a press release.
The rest of the trees that were damaged are throughout the course.
Howard Normann, director of parks, said he estimates the cost of the damage would be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
“If we were to go out and buy these trees and remove the ones that are here and the roots and plant new trees, I mean, it’s not just the cost of the trees there’s lots of other stuff involved in that.”
Built in 1926, Langara is one of three golf courses owned by the park board. All three are certified wildlife sanctuaries with the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, an education and certification program that helps golf courses protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game.
This isn’t the first time vandals have targeted the trees at Langara, Normann said.
“This originally started in 2017 when we had some random trees on the perimeter of the golf course cut down,” he said, adding that staff looked into it at the time but the damage stopped at about 10 trees.
The course hadn’t seen any other trees damaged until recently.
Vancouver police are now investigating as well and it is believed the vandalism occurred at night when the golf course is closed. The course is open from dawn till dusk every day, many people use the surrounding pathway and the south end of the course borders Sexsmith elementary school.
Normann also said it appears that the suspect was armed with a handsaw.
“There’s nobody out here with a chainsaw, it’s just somebody with a good handsaw that’s cutting these trees off.”
The park board is hoping someone in the area will come forward with information that will help track down whoever is responsible.
“We’re hoping that somebody may have noticed something or sees a pattern. It’s a bit difficult for us to track it down but we’re working hard,” Normann said, adding that staff have not been able to determine why the trees are being targeted.
“Unfortunately there’s no real rhyme or reason. There’s no real view corridor for anybody, there’s nothing that really makes any sense, it doesn’t really stop of impede the golfers, so we’re in a bit of a dead end here trying to figure out why somebody would do this.”
Normann said the park board will be seeking stiff penalties against whoever is responsible for the damage.
As for replacing the trees, he said, that will have to wait.
“We’d like to replace them. We have an ongoing tree planting program here at Langara but when you’re starting to take out more trees than you’re putting in that’s problematic for us. So of course we want to replace them but we want to stop them from being cut first before we start to replace more.”
Anyone who saw any suspicious activity, or saw someone with a saw, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Earlier this month, several trees were vandalized near Spanish Banks.
The eight trees at the foot of Tolmie Street had their tops sawed off and limbs removed. In that case the trees will likely survive the damage but in the future will only grow outwards and not get any taller.
And just last week the large grass field at Vanier Park sustained significant damage in what police and the park board described as a ridiculous joyride caused between $5,000 and $10,000 in damage.
“They were up on the grass and they caused a significant amount of damage,” VPD Const. Jason Doucette told the Courier. “There are animals in the area there, there are people out at the park running at night. It’s very irresponsible.”
With files from John Kurucz