Vandals spray paint armoured vehicle amid Sackville, N.B., park controversy

Click to play video: 'Armoured vehicle vandalized in Sacvkille, N.B.' Armoured vehicle vandalized in Sacvkille, N.B.
Amid controversy about placing a second armoured vehicle in the memorial park in Sackville, officials are now cleaning up after the first vehicle was vandalized over the weekend. Callum Smith reports – Jun 24, 2019

The mayor of a town in southeast New Brunswick says he believes an act of vandalism was the result of community controversy about armoured vehicles and their presence in the town.

John Higham, Sackville’s mayor, says a definition of the Memorial Park needs to be clearly established.

“This debate has gotten very, very personal and some very, very strong opinions on both sides, and people are acting inappropriately,” he said.

READ MORE: New Brunswick town puts plan for armoured vehicle memorial on hold

The vandalism, which he says was graffiti on the armoured vehicle – a Ferret – took place between Friday night and Saturday morning, said Higham.

“I was disgusted to see what they had done to the car,” says Doreen Richards, the president of the Sackville Legion.

Story continues below advertisement

But the mayor believes the incident is connected to public backlash over plans to install a second armoured vehicle in the park.

“Oh I believe so,” he says. “It would be a bit of a stretch, but it was vulgar, inappropriate vandalism, that graffiti in essence, that we haven’t seen before. So the timing seems to be linked to some of the other things that are going on.”

John Higham, Sackville’s mayor, says the purpose of the Memorial Park needs to be clearly defined. Callum Smith / Global News

Town councillors in Sackville voted to accept the second vehicle, known as an AVGP Cougar, in February from the 8th Canadian Hussars, but tensions grew when the town was getting ready to install it.

Alex Thomas, a resident who lives near the park and is opposed to a second armoured vehicle being installed, says the community needs to “be really careful of what we’re putting on pedestals in our public parks.”

Story continues below advertisement

“I really believe that this glorifies the violence of war rather than memorializing it,” he says. “I really think there’s better ways to do that, and the cenotaph here is a really powerful piece, and I really think that such a giant vehicle in the park would detract from that.”

Alex Thomas, a resident opposed to the installation of a AVGP Cougar, will be presenting his side of the debate to councillors in July. Callum Smith / Global News

Thomas calls the vandalism “shameful,” saying it should be condemned. He says the graffiti wouldn’t have been from a member of the “dozens” involved in the group opposed to the second vehicle.

Richards says she’s frustrated by the debate but is confident the Cougar will be installed.

“It doesn’t glorify war; it’s a vehicle representing the army, the navy and the Air Force,” she says. “It’s there to let people these vehicles; it’s a memorial park, it’s for the veterans, it’s not a play park.”

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Halifax police launch push for armoured rescue vehicle

The mayor says the fundamental of the debate is about a passion for the community.

“The irony of all this is, this is why people fought for wars, was to have this kind of a democratic discussion.”

But, he says the graffiti and some online threats are very disappointing.

The plan remains to put in the second vehicle, he says, but councillors will hear public presentations from both sides of the debate at their first meeting in July.

Sackville RCMP didn’t return calls for this story.

Sponsored content