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Bralorne locals deny version of skatepark removal

Bralorne locals disagreed with the story told by Bubba Shaw in the Aug. 1 issue of Pique Newsmagazine, which documented the destruction of a skatepark built in the community’s recreation centre.

Bralorne locals disagreed with the story told by Bubba Shaw in the Aug. 1 issue of Pique Newsmagazine, which documented the destruction of a skatepark built in the community’s recreation centre.

According to Ivan Canjar, the story made the town of Bralorne look bad and contained several inaccuracies. Another caller, who asked to remain anonymous, also said there were problems with Shaw’s account.

While he admits taking the skatepark apart personally, Canjar denies using a chainsaw or a crowbar. He says he used a skillsaw to carefully take the ramps apart at the joints and believes they could easily be repaired and assembled somewhere else.

Furthermore, he says that Shaw was given a formal eviction notice by the Bralorne Bridge River Community Association to remove the ramps prior to an annual softball tournament held by the community. The tournament, said Canjar, raises money to pay for the recreation centre.

"He gave me his word that he would be out of there," said Canjar.

He also denies that the centre was unused for more than 10 years, as Shaw claimed, maintaining that it was used every year for the softball tournament, every four years for a miner’s reunion, and occasionally at Christmas for community functions.

"We feel (Shaw) has exaggerated the story," said Canjar.

"Some of the young people saw the community hall was easy pickings, and some of the older (residents) didn’t want that kind of attitude in town," said Canjar.

"Most people don’t want to get involved in the whole thing, but he (Shaw) was a real instigator. People are here for the quiet life. We had our concerns and (Shaw) wasn’t very co-operative with us. He was rude at these town meetings, giving the finger or whatever, and the people weren’t going to stand for that."

Canjar says Shaw provoked some of the older residents at the beginning, which set the tone for everything that followed.

Canjar also said that Shaw left the community with $800 in Hydro bills for the recreation centre.

Canjar doesn’t know who stole Shaw’s tools from the centre, but admitted that he cut through the locks Shaw had put on the doors three times to gain entrance.

Shaw said he locked the doors after some of his tools were stolen the first time, and would have given the key to anyone who asked.

At that point Shaw had a lease from the association to operate the skatepark, but according to Canjar that lease was only granted by the secretary of the association without any kind of formal vote or approval processes. Most people in the community were surprised by it, he said.

"That lease would never have stood up, it was nothing, it was not legal," said Canjar.

Canjar acknowledges that the association is not elected, and frequently has problems keeping active members. He also acknowledges that there was some friction among members of the previously elected board, and the members left. As a result he says members of the community took over the administration of association assets, including the recreation centre.

Shaw said he kept records of events; Canjar said the records were wrong. For example, Shaw says the police showed up at 2:45 p.m., two days after he made the complaint about his park, while Canjar said the police showed up closer to 10:30 in the morning. His point is that Shaw’s records are not as reliable as he claims.

Another problem he had was with the reference to a cabin owned by Pat Keller. According to Canjar it was torn down because it was on someone else’s property, not because people in town had a vendetta against Keller. Before it was taken down, he says Keller’s possessions were placed on the sidewalk by the property owner, but he didn’t come back to collect them.

The dispute over the recreation centre could have been resolved, he said, if Shaw had been more respectful.

"To tell you the truth, I’m sorry about the way it went," said Canjar. "We depend on young people up here to do things… we’re not just a bunch of hicks up here and we don’t want to be taken that way."

Although Canjar admits that the town has had problems in the past, he says the problems have always been caused by outsiders taking advantage of the fact that Bralorne is remote and doesn’t have a police station.

"Our biggest problem is not locals, but outsiders that come up here and create the problems," Canjar said. "This town only shows up when there’s been a bust or something… but it’s not us, it’s not."

For his part, Shaw said he is sticking to his version of the events – namely that his skatepark was destroyed by a small group of locals that had a problem with him, without any authority to evict him or destroy his ramps.

The park was created with a loan from the Community Futures program to create a skateboard camp, said Shaw, and he was required to file regular reports to the program every month that he says will back his claim. In addition, he says he has copies of all the bills he paid to B.C. Hydro while the skatepark was open.

Shaw also says he has all of the public meetings on video, "In case anything every had to go to court."

"I made sure there was more than just my record keeping."

He said he went into every meeting with the best intentions of winning over people, and said some residents refused to listen.

Shaw also said he had witnesses to events that would back his side of the story. He said it’s possible that Canjar and others may have their own perspective on events, but says he is telling the truth and that the people in town didn’t make any effort to see things from his perspective.

"They hold one softball tournament a year outside of the recreation centre – that’s their justification for wrecking my skatepark?" asked Shaw.

Shaw also stands by his own records of events, which he said were as detailed as he could make them.

The reporter did attempt to call residents of Bralorne before the story was published, but one resident refused to comment and another could not be reached.