St. Martins covered bridge hit with graffiti days before official opening

·3 min read
The two-lane Vaughan Creek Covered Bridge is in the village of St. Martins, about 54 kilometres east of Saint John.   (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)
The two-lane Vaughan Creek Covered Bridge is in the village of St. Martins, about 54 kilometres east of Saint John. (Roger Cosman/CBC - image credit)

The mayor of St. Martins said she was hit with disappointment this week, when she learned of graffiti on the village's new covered bridge.

"I just can't get my head around the fact that anyone would do it," Mayor Bette Ann Chatterton said. "You know, everybody in the village and in the immediate surrounding area is so proud of it."

The $5.5-million Vaughan Creek covered bridge was vandalized only days before its grand opening on Thursday.

The graffiti was spray painted in three different locations along the pedestrian walkway inside the bridge.

"Whoever vandalized it, I feel sorry for them because I can't imagine what would have ever caused them to think that it would be a good thing," Chatterton said.

In 2021, the original Vaughan Creek covered bridge was removed because of deterioration. It was built in 1935.

Much like first bridge

The new timber bridge is modelled after its predecessor in the village by the Bay of Fundy, but it features two lanes instead of one, Chatterton said.

"It was quite a big thing ... to be able to replace it with what we have today, which is modern and yet is the replica of what we had before," she said.

Dunbar Construction Ltd. was tasked with bringing the project to life. Chatterton said that for the most part, construction is complete and the company is now working on taking down a temporary bridge.

Chatterton said Dunbar will also be removing the graffiti before Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

New Brunswick Tourism Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace echoed Chatterton's grief about the vandalism.

"It really did make my heart sink," she said. "I think to say I was disappointed would be an understatement."

Scott-Wallace said a new covered bridge for St. Martins was the ultimate dream and it's discouraging that someone would want to take away from that.

"It's harmful to the spirit of the community," she said. "We've all been anxiously awaiting its opening. It's harmful when damage is done physically to infrastructure like that … and it does harm to the spirit of the community too."

Scott-Wallace said this is the first fully wooden bridge to be built in the province in more than 75 years. While the graffiti may have put a bit of a damper on the grand opening, Scott-Wallace said Thursday will still be a cheerful celebration.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

RCMP investigation continues

RCMP Cpl. Tyson Nelson with the Hampton detachment said police received a complaint about the graffiti Tuesday morning.

He said the individuals responsible haven't been identified at this time but the investigation continues.

"There are cameras there, but it hasn't been determined if the offence was recorded or not," he said.

Nelson said the vandals could be charged with mischief, which comes with a minimum fine of $2,500.

He said RCMP want to help prevent future vandalism on the bridge.

"We've been in contact with the Village of St. Martins and are working to help them put some procedures in place to avoid this in the future," he said.

The official opening of the Vaughan Creek covered bridge will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday at the lighthouse visitor information centre.