BCM blames shocked community after large chunks of Buffalo Flats’ astro turf stripped
About half the Buffalo Flats sports field's astro turf has been stolen, and this is not the only vandalism to have taken place at the facility.
On Tuesday, videos surfaced on social media showing people walking away with large pieces of synthetic grass.
Colton Prince, chair of the Buffalo Flats astro turf committee, said there was “just a shell” left at the metro-owned sports facility, adding he was shocked to see the video of vandals “walking down the main road” with the turf.
“[The place] has been tremendously vandalised during the lockdown, but I was still shocked to see the video.
“Almost half [the playing surface] is gone,” Prince said.
“One day a lady who lives behind the field called me at work to tell me there is water flowing from the turf and into her yard. They [thieves] started with the changing rooms, stealing the plumbing.
“That was one of many times they have stolen the plumbing. BCM would come and fix it, but they would break in and steal again. They’ve stolen the doors, the ceiling and all the plumbing in the change rooms.”
He said during the Covid-19 lockdown it had become a “free-for-all”.
“I’ve been getting numerous calls and pictures and videos sent to me of vandals at the turf or thieves walking off with things. But nobody has ever said, ‘Come, we have caught one [thief]’.
“Nobody does anything to help,” said Prince, who is also the manager of the Phoenix hockey club.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said on Tuesday: “This [vandalism of the turf] has been an ongoing issue, including the vandalism of the changing rooms and ablution facilities.”
The metro has opened several cases with the police over the ongoing vandalism.
“There have been unconfirmed claims that the community wants the turf to be converted into a soccer field, hence the vandalism. But by vandalising government property in this fashion the community is letting itself down and depriving youngsters of access to such a facility,” Ngwenya said in the online report.
Ngwenya’s statements caused an outcry in the Buffalo Flats community, with residents saying on the Dispatch Facebook page that they were a hockey community. They described the claim that the astro turf should be converted into a soccer field as “bizarre”.
Astro turf committee secretary John Adams decried the “pure vandalism” and said claims the thieves were doing it to get a soccer field there were false.
This is pure vandalism and saying it’s because they want a soccer field there is just diverting it
“This is pure vandalism and saying it’s because they want a soccer field there is just diverting it. They [thieves] have even taken the sprinklers and the pump housing has been stripped; all metal parts that can be sold are being stolen,” Adams said.
But Ngwenya said: “We received an offer to the municipality in a letter saying that they [soccer-loving community members] will provide security provided we [BCM] turn the stadium into a soccer field.
“The bottom line is we need the community to help us identify those within them that are behind this so that they can be arrested. The act was done in broad daylight, which shows the level of audacity.
“We must root out this sort of behaviour because as much as these are municipal assets, they belong to the communities.”
Prince and Adams said vandalism of the facility had put children who played school matches and had weekend hockey clinics there at a disadvantage.
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