Yellowknife couple sound alarm on downtown security after vehicle vandalized in parking garage

A Yellowknife couple says more needs to be done for downtown safety after their vehicle, parked in a parking garage, was recently damaged.

Rick Boyes, who lives in Northern Heights, said his 2005 Chrysler Sebring was a « daily driver » that took him from work to home to the grocery store.

But on November 21, he picked up his car from its parking spot in the Center Square Mall parking lot and found he could no longer drive it.

Three of the four windows had been smashed, the windshield cracked, the windscreen wiper handle torn off and the rear-view mirror damaged, among other damage.

« I think the thing is toast, » he said.

Interior damage to Rick Boyes and Sandy Dodman’s vehicle. The vehicle was damaged by vandals at the end of November. (Luke Carroll/CBC)

Boyes also discovered dozens of cigarette butts, empty liquor bottles, and marijuana paraphernalia inside the car; he thinks whoever did it, had a night of destruction.

Boyes and his wife Sandy Dodman do not have insurance coverage for the damage.

In the meantime, the couple have another vehicle they can use, but in the long run they have to make a decision: spend around $2,500 to fix a vehicle that’s probably not worth much, or spend tens of thousands dollars for a newer vehicle.

« So now we’re looking at the loss of the car in addition to the price of a replacement. Due to someone’s night sport, » Boyes said.

centre square mall parkade
Center Square Mall Parkade is the only such facility in Yellowknife. But it has become the scene of several acts of vandalism in recent years and some residents want more enforcement in the area. (Robert Holden/CBC)

The multi-storey parking lot is the only structure of its kind in Yellowknife. It offers covered parking for residents of the nearby Northern Heights condominium tower.

The parking lot entrance is a regular meeting place for some. It offers shelter from the elements and close proximity to some downtown amenities.

Boyes said you needed a key card to get in and there was a security camera, but he said Center Square Mall staff told him there were ways for vandals to get in. enter and that there were areas not covered by the security camera. Center Square Mall did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2020, several cars kept in the parking lot were spray painted, including a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle.

And Arctic Jewelers of Yellowknife, a Center Square Mall retailer, faces thousands of dollars in damages and losses after the business was robbed in October.

This is the second time the store has faced a robbery in two months, owner Hau Huynh said.

Boyes and Dodman say they feel like it’s part of a larger problem with inner-city living, and little is being done to address it.

« The core, it’s not safe, I don’t think, in my opinion, » Boyes said.

The couple say there doesn’t appear to be accountability or preventative measures in place.

centre square mall administrative office
The administrative office of Center Square Mall. CBC News reached out to the mall by email and phone to ask about parking security. No one responded to discuss the situation. CBC News showed up at the mall’s administrative office three times, but the office was unstaffed each time. (Robert Holden/CBC)

Security and police

Boyes and Dodman say they were told the mall required security to check the parking lot, but they rarely saw anyone do so.

CBC News contacted Center Square Mall administration by email and phone and showed up at the mall’s administration office three times in two days. No one was in the administration office during one of the visits and no one returned calls or emails to respond to the situation.

Boyes and Dodman say the situation requires more than just action from the mall — they want to see more RCMP visibility in the neighborhood, including foot patrols.

« If this is where the action is, maybe they should have a detachment here? » he said.

CBC News has contacted the RCMP about the incident.

A spokesperson responded to say a series of vandalized cars had been stopped in the city’s Borden Drive area. The vandalism there included smashed windows, similar to what happened to Boyes’ car. But the RCMP did not specify if the young arrested was involved in this vandalism.

On Monday, Boyes said he was happy to learn of any vandalism arrests.

However, Boyes and Dodman said when they filed a police report that they were warned not to expect much. They said they were told that even if the police made an arrest, it was unlikely the culprit would be able to pay damages even if found guilty.

But Dodman wonders how that deters future incidents.

« It’s just telling them to do it over and over again, » Dodman said.


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