Published:July 24, 2022
Calgary police are investigating after a man with a hammer and bricks smashed dozens of glass panels on the city’s Peace Bridge early Sunday morning.
Officers were called to the bridge shortly after 4 a.m. for reports that a man was walking from the south end of the bridge, destroying the glass panels with a hammer, bricks and possibly a piece of rebar, Staff Sgt. John Guigon said Sunday.
Almost every glass balustrade panel of the bridge had been damaged when officers arrived, said Guigon.
The damage will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars to repair, according to Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong.
The area councillor visited the Peace Bridge on Sunday to assess the damage and said about 35 to 40 panels are entirely smashed or damaged. Last month, council heard from city administration in a report that it costs about $80,000 to replace six panels.
“This is not something that we can do every month. There’s a lot of devastation there,” said Wong. “We need to find a way to convince the public that this is not the right way to behave.”
He said his initial thought was that the extent of the damage done is disturbing.
“(On Saturday), I cycled over it with the Climate Hub as part of a bike tour and we quite enjoyed the bridge, and you come back to see that 80 per cent of the side has been shattered. It’s not a pleasant sight,” he said.
The City of Calgary launched a campaign to try to mitigate vandalism on the bridge last month by promoting the structure as a piece of art.
The city said vandalism to the bridge’s glass panels has increased, mostly from people throwing rocks from the riverbed.
Several defaced paintings are hanging from the top of the bridge to remind people the bridge itself is a work of art.
“You’re standing in a work of art” reads a poster hung on one of the freshly smashed glass panels.
Wong said the city needs to find better material for the side panels so they aren’t easily shattered, and said there needs to be increased observation and enforcement.
“We need people to see this is going on and report it. Similarly, we need to put more surveillance on the bridge itself to identify who and why, and turn it over to Calgary police so they can follow up,” said the councillor.
Guigon said the suspect was spotted by responding officers heading into the city’s core, where he was lost. No arrests have been made.
Calgary police said there were witnesses who took videos of the vandalism and CCTV footage is available, so the investigation is ongoing.
The iconic city bridge has faced much criticism because of its costly repairs, initial price tag and construction delays. The bridge was opened in March 2012 and cost $24.5 million to connect Sunnyside with Eau Claire across the Bow River.
The bridge sees thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every day, but the city has had to continuously try to deter vandalism.
In 2016, upgraded security cameras and foot patrols by city security staff were introduced in an effort to stop vandals from breaking the glass features of the bridge. And in 2019, replacement panels were purchased in bulk to save money after another incident of vandalism.
City officials did not immediately provide comment when reached by Postmedia on Sunday.