Industrial Heritage Society president Pete Geddes looks through one of the broken train windows at the blackberry bushes where a pair of youth have been weeding and picking up shattered glass after a vandalism incident at the heritage roundhouse in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Youth suspected of vandalism return to clean up heritage rail cars in Port Alberni

Two youth accused of vandalizing a pair of heritage rail cars at the Alberni Pacific Railway’s roundhouse returned to the scene of the crime last week—this time with their mothers.

The two youth spent two full days cleaning up the mess left behind when they allegedly kicked out all the windows of two covered cars. Several fire extinguishers were expelled in the incident, and the youth cleaned that up too.

Industrial Heritage Society president Pete Geddes said the cost to replace all the glass will be around $6,000, not including damage done to some of the seats in the cars, as well as replacement of the fire extinguishers.

“It looks a lot better now than it did the other day,” Geddes said during a recent tour through the damaged cars. “That was a plus that both mothers phoned me. Both of the mothers said ‘you’ve got them here until you don’t need them.’”

A volunteer had attended the roundhouse earlier this month to work on a restoration project when he heard the sound of breaking glass coming from the direction of the heritage rail cars, which are stored outdoors at the roundhouse. The cars have not been used this summer as the City of Port Alberni decided to leave the tourist trains idle while it works out financing and other issues surrounding the railway and McLean Mill National Historic Site.

Police were called and caught two youth in the act of vandalizing the rail cars.

Two volunteers from the Industrial Heritage Society supervised last Thursday, Aug. 22 as the youth cleaned up, including one volunteer who travelled from Nanoose for both days.

One of the boys’ mothers handed Geddes some money, saying it represented three months of her son’s allowance.

Geddes said the youth are expected back this week to continue cleaning up glass as well as weeding around the tracks and switches.

The windows were made of tempered glass and exploded when they were smashed. Broken glass was two and three inches thick both inside and outside the cars, Geddes said.

Geddes had to give his permission for the youth to be at the roundhouse. “The police told them if they get caught on the property again they will be charged with trespassing.”

The two youth still face a court date, in about three months’ time, he added. No one has been convicted in this incident.

“The mothers didn’t want this mess to exist that long.”

While the rail cars are insured through the City of Port Alberni, a gofundme account was started because people were reaching out to the Industrial Heritage Society to help financially.

The campaign has raised more than $3,000 so far and can be found at gofundme.com (search “Vandals hit Alberni Pacific Railway”).



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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