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Mini golf vandalized again
Centre for Northern Families seeks partner to help renovate crippled course

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There are three things one can count on during summers in Yellowknife: midnight sun, mosquitoes ... and vandalism at the city's mini golf course.

NNSL photo/graphic

A look inside the shack that acts as the office for Yellowknife's mini golf course, in disarray after years of vandalism and abuse. - Ian Vaydik/NNSL photos

For Arlene Hache, who runs the course for the Centre for Northern Families, it is a tradition she does not need.

The course, formerly known as Wade Hamer Mini Golf, faced another round of vandalism on June 20. This time the vandals trashed the course's office and lit a fire on the 18th hole.

The Centre for Northern Families has had the lease on the course since 2006.

"It's frustrating. Every year it is a challenge for us," said Hache. "Usually people break into the shack to have a place to stay or drink, or things like that... so we've tried to have stronger doors. We've tried to have better barricades and to make sure people are present there. It's in kind of an isolated spot so it's easy to go unnoticed," said Hache.

The mini-golf is located beside the pool, and adjacent to the Frame Lake Trail.

She said the vandalism doesn't seem to be attached to any kind of purpose, "just straight-out enjoyment of destroying things."

The Centre for Northern Families is stuck with paying for the repairs - cost unknown.

The site had not been open for business this summer when the damage occurred.

Hache said despite the recurrent vandalism, she believes law enforcement is doing a good job.

"Bylaw and the RCMP have actually kept a pretty close eye on it, and if they hadn't, I'm sure it would be much more frequent and probably much more damage would have occurred," said Hache. The police are investigating the incident, but admit they have no leads.

"It's basically one of those files where we have no suspects, no leads, nothing really to go on, so that's kind of where it stands right now. If nobody comes forward with any information, it's going to be tough to solve," said Const. Kathy Law.

Hache said she has fond memories of bringing her own children to the mini golf course, and thinks it is an important part of the community, providing low-cost summer fun.

"We've always thought of it as a great place for families who can't afford to participate in other activities," said Hache.

She said she would like to partner with a contractor who could help them renovate the site in ways that would make it easier to keep vandals out, while also giving it a face-lift to attract more customers.

"I think the big struggle is that the Centre for Northern Families doesn't have the resources to properly renovate the mini golf or to properly make sure it's secure... and we're having a really difficult time trying to figure out how to do that successfully."

She said the Centre has been speaking with a B.C. contractor who offered some suggestions on things that can be done to make it less of a vandalism target.

"For example, she suggested that we have more gizmos that can be removed at night and locked up safe. And then, of course, cameras would make a difference... I wish I could entice somebody on partnering on the renovations."

Hache said the Centre is looking to the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency for funding, however, since the mini golf doesn't qualify as either a business or a community project, she is not optimistic they will get it.

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