What was a late-night prank for some, can be a costly and dangerous act to taxpayers, drivers and cyclists, warn city officials and RCMP.
The prank came in the middle of the night, and isn’t the first time it has happened in Courtenay — the removal of metal catch basin grates on Fifth Street that were placed in the middle of the roadway in the middle of the night.
“These grates are made of cast-iron and they don’t reflect light, so people wouldn’t be able to see them, and weigh between 60 and 80 pounds,” explained Const. Don Sinclair of the latest incident, which took place March 19 at 1:49 a.m.
“If a car would have hit them, they would be in serious damage.”
Sinclair said there were three or four grates moved and left on the travel portion of the road.
He added moving the grates were done for nothing more than to cause damage to pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.
“If a car would have hit this metal grate, it probably would have caused serious damage underneath their vehicle. If someone would have stepped off the sidewalk and fell into the hole they could have broken bones or hurt themselves pretty seriously,” he noted, and said if found, the culprits could face fine or a charge of mischief.
Keir Gervais, manager of public works for the City of Courtenay, said this type of incident happens a couple of times a month when the weather gets warmer, and there is a possibility of someone falling in.
“All the stars would have to align themselves (for someone stumbling in) but most certainly. Or somebody parking a car or somebody riding a bicycle down the road. There’s a void left there in the road service,” he noted.
Gervais said normally, the city’s on-call public works employee would get a page through their answering service during off-hours, and would return the catch basin lid to its proper place. In this particular incident, an RCMP member replaced the lid.
“It’s like all pranks — for the person doing it they don’t see the string of consequences that follow or costly or in the case of human injury or in the case of property damage of any sort,” he explained. “There is significant impact for operations and our city budget and that unfortunately can spills back to taxpayers.
“And it’s something we take seriously but unfortunately it happens in the night and we’re not usually around to see.”