A twice-vandalized sign in Errington has caused concerns of growing hostility among road users.
Andrina Lindenaar noticed on Friday morning (Jan. 29) that the horse crossing ‘share the road’ sign on Grafton Avenue was sprayed with black paint. As a member of the Silver Spur Riding Club (SSRC), she advised fellow club members, who went out and completely cleaned off the paint.
Though no longer in the area on Saturday, Lindenaar was told the sign was vandalized again.
“The time before, it was a mess but you could still make out what (the sign) was. The second time, completely blacked out,” she said.
Again, SSRC members cleaned the paint off as best they could.
“I’m not sure how they managed to get all that off, but they did a wonderful job and you can kind of read it now.”
Lavinia Martin, a SSRC member, said the club has been active in the area for approximately 60 years.
Last year the Horse Council BC announced an agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to install horse crossing and warning signs in high-use areas to improve traffic behaviour and safety. Martin said the SSRC looked at five different locations in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, which they proposed to the MOTI as prime locations.
The Grafton location, Martin said, is an especially dangerous area since it is not only used by horse riders, pedestrians and vehicles, but also by logging trucks, gravel trucks and commercial vehicles.
“So it can be pretty heavily used, especially right on that bend where that road sign has been put up. It’s a double-bend that’s hidden, and you can’t see what’s around the corner at all.”
Lindenaar said she’s had several close encounters on Grafton Avenue.
“It’s definitely scary up and down that road. I have to walk it to get to any of the trails I want to get to. And there is definitely times that I don’t want to go walking on it at all anymore. It’s scary,” she said. “I don’t want to make anyone out to seem malicious but it sure seems like it sometimes.”
She said she’s not aware of anyone coming forward to the riding club with complaints about signs or members, but suspects the vandal might be someone in the area. To avoid conflict though, she and other SSRC members “don’t want to start pointing fingers.”
Lindenaar’s safety concerns are not limited to just herself and her horse while on Grafton. She’s also concerned that unaware vehicle drivers may get to close and accidentally spook her horse.
“(My horse) is a 1,500-pound animal. Like that’s a moose coming through someone’s windshield… I don’t want anyone getting hurt from my animal because I decided to walk them down the road.”
This is not the first time the club has dealt with sign vandalism.
Anne Mabberley, another member of the SSRC, said she was not impressed when another horse crossing sign at the beginning of Kaye Road, by Englishman River Regional Park, was repeatedly torn down during the summer of 2009. Once the sign was relocated within the same area, she said the problem stopped.
“My thoughts are if you don’t like horses, don’t live in a horse community,” said Mabberley in an email to the PQB News.
Mabberley believes while both incidents are disappointing and appear to be directed at horse riders, they were not done by the same perpetrator.