Car break-ins were common before Park Watch founded in 2001. The organization said it eliminated break-ins whenever its staff was on duty. (File)

Sooke’s Park Watch to cease operation

People not carrying money for donation boxes led to funding shortfalls

Park Watch, the non-profit organization that for 19 years has provided security at the region’s parks, is no more.

Its demise, in part, comes as a result that people don’t carry money anymore.

“About half of our funding has always come from the donation boxes we had when we provided security in park parking lots, but people don’t carry cash these days and those donations have gone way down,” said Lavyna Alexander, the operations manager for Park Watch.

“Last year alone, those donations were down more than $20,000.”

In a letter to Sooke council, the organization said it ceased operations and would not be operating in 2020, citing an anticipated funding shortfall as the main cause of the decision to end the service.

RELATED: On patrol for 19 years

And while Park Watch has in the past been the beneficiary of some funding from the District of Sooke, the Capital Regional District, and even ICBC, the donation box monies were critical to the organization’s survival.

“We could see that the situation was not going to improve, so it was time (to stop operations),” Alexander said.

Sgt. Clayton Wiebe of the Sooke RCMP said the service will be missed.

“It was great having the extra eyes out there,” Weibe said.

“Before Park Watch, hikers would leave their cars and return to find that they’d been the victims of a break-in and theft.”

That history of thefts from cars was the original impetus for creating the organization.

“In 2000, there were 111 car break-ins in our parks. We created Park Watch and the next year that number dropped to 61 and it’s been going down ever since,” Alexander said.

“There has not been a single car break-in when we were on duty.”

She added that there had been a similar experience with thefts from park users as in 2000 there had been 81 such thefts reported.

“The very next year those thefts dropped from 81 to 14, and those happened when we were not on duty in the parks.”

Alexander said Park Watch also evolved to provide more than a security service for park users.

“We offered assistance including tourism information, first response first aid, information about the park being visited and attractions in the local area,” she said.

“We were really the ambassadors for the parks, interacting with visitors to provide information … everything they needed to know for their park visit.”

She recalled instances when the Park Watch staff had also helped with getting assistance when visitor’s cars experienced mechanical problems. On other occasions, the staff had ferried visitors to where cell service was available so that those visitors could call for help themselves.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian Tire Fix-A-Heart campaign raises more than $75,000 for Royal Jubilee Hospital

Donations will help purchase infusion pumps for cardiac care units

Supreme Court bans Victoria man from practising law

Jeremy Maddock received a law degree in 2016 but never completed articling

Helicopter crash claims legendary baseball coach who sent players to Victoria HarbourCats

HarbourCats manager had met John Altobelli, 56, during recruitment trip in California

West Shore RCMP look to identify man who allegedly stole two hoverboards

Suspect described as five-foot-10, heavyset, with dark brown hair

West Shore RCMP arrest man attempting to break into Colwood homes naked

Suspect entered one home, broke two front door glass panels

VIDEO: Driver found guilty in Saanich crash that left Leila Bui with catastrophic brain injuries

Tenessa Nikirk convicted on one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes mobiles, guest suites not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

The Three Bears are down to two after baby bear carving stolen from his perch in Island community

Thief repeatedly kicked it and dislodged it from cement and rebar

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

‘Big money’ funding B.C. politics now mostly from taxpayers

Campaign targets $16 million and counting in ‘politician welfare’

Ski lift closed at B.C. mountain over alleged actions of former employee

‘We are actively investigating and dealing with the actions of a former employee,’ said the resort

Most Read