'It's a mess': Inuvik's welcome centre defaced and vandalized in days after opening

·3 min read
Inuvik's brand new tourism centre was vandalized within days after it opened its doors. (Submitted by Jackie Challis - image credit)
Inuvik's brand new tourism centre was vandalized within days after it opened its doors. (Submitted by Jackie Challis - image credit)

Broken tables, chairs and locks, a damaged display board, trash and liquids thrown on the building. Not to mention a pile of faeces dropped outside an entrance.

Since the opening of the Inuvik Welcome Centre just over a week ago in Inuvik, N.W.T., an official says there has been multiple instances of vandalism there. The town had only just opened the doors to the facility on June 18.

Jackie Challis, the director of economic development and tourism for the town, said it was disheartening to see vandalism and defacement has already affected the building.

Submitted by Jackie Challis
Submitted by Jackie Challis

"We all are so excited to be working in a new building and with a new space. And so when we come in, and we see things like that right in the morning ... it makes us sad," she said to CBC News. "It's a mess."

In a Facebook post on Monday, Challis said it's been an occurrence every day.

"Each morning, I have come in to broken pieces of equipment, torn up posters, slushies and sodas being sprayed and poured on our walls and over our display boards, tables and chairs being ripped from their security cables and left upside down across the park or on the boardwalk, many now broken. Empty bottles, piles of garbage, cigarette butts," she wrote.

Submitted by Jackie Challis
Submitted by Jackie Challis

The visitors' centre is in the middle of the town for easy access and hosts regular community events such as the Arctic Market every Sunday. In addition to visitor services provided by the centre, it includes office and retail space.

The tourism centre is in the Chief Jim Koe Park, next to the Inuvik Special Events Pavilion that opened last June.

Challis said security cameras and security is not the issue — but rather "respect, honour, pride in community, stewardship, and regard for other people and property," she wrote.

She said she wants the whole community to feel included in events at the centre, but that involves taking care of it.

"We need our equipment, we need the facility to be taken care of and we need our tables and chairs and all of the other pieces to be taken care of so that we have them to last for more events," she told CBC.

CBC/Karli Zschogner
CBC/Karli Zschogner

The display board was placed outside the centre so that tourists could find attractions and resources after hours. Now, Challis said they might be rethinking that. Other resources that have been damaged will also affect the community, she said.

"When we come to do things like our culture connection workshops, or the Arctic market, now we have less tables or damaged tables for the vendors to use. So that's a big consequence," she said.

There were always plans to put in cameras, she said, and those will be going up soon. However, she said that it only catches the person after the fact.

"While that would allow us to identify and provide consequences," Challis said. "What it doesn't do is it doesn't stop the damage in the first place."

Submitted by Jackie Challis
Submitted by Jackie Challis

She's hopeful for the future of the centre. In the first marker it hosted, she said there were over 40 vendors.

"We have our Arctic markets planned, we have cultural events planned, we have a brand new fiddle festival that's going to happen for three days, and so we just want these events to be able to happen," Challis said.

Inuvik RCMP said they have received no reports of vandalism.

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