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Wire theft leaves downtown Nanaimo bridge in the dark

City considering ways to prevent further theft and vandalism at Bastion Street Bridge
Lights on the Bastion Street Bridge have remained dark since wiring was stolen in late January. Repair costs are expected to be at least $12,000. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

City staff are working to re-illuminate one of downtown Nanaimo’s gateways.

The Bastion Street Bridge became the target of vandalism and theft when the wiring for the bridge’s lights and duct work were stolen late last month.

“We got notified that the lights on the bridge were dark,” said David Thompson, city manager of roads and traffic services. “We sent out an electrical contractor to look in the matter and they discovered that all the wiring and duct work that is hung underneath the bridge, servicing those lights, had been ripped down. It’s a big undertaking.”

Thompson said rather than simply replace the lost hardware – initial cost estimates were $12,000 to $15,000 to carry out the work – the city is looking at ways to make replacement hardware more resistant against theft and vandalism and to see if upgrades should be made, such as additional lighting that could help “improve the situation overall.”

The frequency of wire and metal theft from city property has slowed in recent years.

“There was a big rash of wire theft, I want to say two years ago, but it has kind of quieted down,” Thompson said. “Most of our electrical infrastructure is under lock and key and buried, so it’s protected in that sense, but certainly, as with anything, somebody who’s got sufficient motivation and time can create a lot of problems.”

Thompson said the abutment areas under the bridge are dry and dark and city bylaws officers move people along from those areas daily.

The bridge lights have now been dark for a month, but Thompson said there is likely enough ambient lighting from nearby street lights and business spilling onto the bridge to avoid potential safety issues.

The city is working with its electrical contractor to determine the final cost for repairs and upgrades and when the lights will be back in service.

A theft complaint was not filed with the Nanaimo RCMP, which offered no comment on the theft.

“That’s the situation so we’re taking a bit of time to reinstate that lighting in a way that’s not going to expose us to future issues like this,” Thompson said.

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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