A long-time grain farmer from Saskatchewan is asking Oliver for solutions to “senseless acts of vandalism” perpetrated by local youth.
Stan Postnikoff has only lived here for two months and he’s been a victim of vandalism three times.
“What did I do to deserve this? Do I need to get to a point where I have to offer a reward to put a stop to this?”
Postnikoff, who lives in Willowglen subdivision, was the victim of vandalism in March prior to moving in. Someone wrote profanity on his driveway before the concrete had a chance to dry. In May, someone with a black marker tagged various vehicles (including his) in the neighbourhood. Then on June 21 at 12:31 am, Postnikoff heard what sounded like a gunshot. Someone had thrown a rock at his livingroom window, putting a hole in it, which will cost $500 to replace.
Commenting on the recent rash of vandalism, Sgt. Ken Harrington said the incidents appear to be a result of three local youths looking for an outlet to get rid of their “pent-up energy.”
He asked parents to be cognizant of what their children are doing.
Harrington also urged victims of vandalism to report these acts as soon as possible. If people wait until the morning after, there is very little investigative value left, he pointed out.
But Postnikoff said attributing these senseless acts to pent-up energy is a poor excuse.
“When I’ve got pent-up energy, I go hit a golf ball.”
The new homeowner said he refuses the suggestion to “let these things run their course” because that’s not a solution.
“Who’s controlling our lives? I’m not going to be quiet and live in fear. I want to feel secure knowing something is being done.”
Postnikoff said he doesn’t believe in eye-for-an-eye justice, but does believe that people need to be held accountable for their actions and pay for their mistakes. He said insurance was not created to cover senseless acts.
Postnikoff spoke to Mayor Ron Hovanes about his concerns, and contacted Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson too.
“I feel bad for Mr. Postnikoff and everyone who has been affected by vandalism,” Hovanes said, noting that Oliver, like every other community, has its share of senseless acts.
“I believe that the citizens of Oliver live day to day with real respect for each other and their property. It is a small number of individuals that do not share this attitude and sadly they impact many of us.”
Postnikoff said the trouble seems to stem from youth having convenient access to the Willowglen area via the pedestrian bridge at Lions Park. He noted if this walkway isn’t imperative to police operations or public safety, maybe it should be shut down.
He also looked into a curfew for youth in town, but was told this would be impractical.
“Maybe the bylaws need to be changed,” said Postnikoff, noting this was done in Manitoba to address citizens’ safety and security. “I’m not asking for a lot, I’m just asking for common sense.”
Hovanes said past councils have explored the concept of a curfew but the research showed that it is very difficult to enforce and you would be punishing everyone for the sake of a few.
“I have no desire to shut down a pedestrian bridge,” he said emphatically. “The Town has put in a lot of effort over the years to be ‘walk’ friendly, and neighbourhoods have been designed with connective paths so that our citizens can have an alternative to driving and these paths lead to a healthier community.”
The mayor said the Town works very closely with the RCMP and bylaw enforcement.
“Both agencies need to hear from the public. We also have an active Crime Watch volunteer organization.”
Hovanes said neighbours can take an active role in looking out for each other. He pointed out that people’s concerns have been passed on to enforcement officials.
Postnikoff said he has contributed a great deal to Oliver and wants the peace of mind to live comfortably without feeling paranoid.
He acknowledged that kids will be kids, but these senseless acts show disrespect for their parents and the community. The attitude is that kids can do no harm in many parents’ eyes because it reflects badly on the parents, Postnikoff said.
He noted if his son vandalized a neighbour’s property, he’d acknowledge that fact and have the child apologize.
“I like kids, but they should find something they feel passionate about because it makes life easier.”
Postnikoff said moving to Oliver was the best decision he ever made. “This is what I’m fighting for – a good community.”