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Police release description of suspect in nearly $1 million Peace Bridge vandalism

A whopping 72 of the glass side panels on the Peace Bridge over the Bow River were smashed this weekend. That's 80 per cent of the total side panels, causing nearly $1 million in damage.

"We have witnesses and surveillance that has told us exactly when and how, so we sent that over to Calgary police," said Ward 7 councillor Terry Wong.

Police say witnesses reported the vandalism as being done by a man who used a hammer, rebar and bricks to smash the glass. Police say walked across the bridge starting on the southwest side and pushing a shopping cart with him. 

Witnesses saw the suspect dump the shopping cart in the river and run off into the nearby district of Sunnyside.

In a press release late Monday, Calgary police said the man they believe caused this latest vandalism to the bridge is also thought to be responsible for breaking at least one pane of glass earlier in June this year.

They released a description of the man and are hoping the public can help locate him.

The suspect is described as approximately 50 to 60 years old, with a full mustache,  167 to 179 centimetres (5"6’ to 5"9’) tall, with a slim build, weighing approximately 68 kg (150 pounds).

“We know the Peace Bridge is an iconic art structure in our city, and we know Calgarians are upset by the vandalism and damage caused to something that is meant to be enjoyed by everyone.” said Acting Staff Sgt.  Liana Deegan.

“We are currently investigating this incident and are asking anyone with information, or who can identify the suspect to come forward.”

Local artist Athena Cooper came to the Peace Bridge Monday morning to survey the damage. The artist paints images of Calgary and the Peace Bridge has been one of her favourite locations.

“I think it's heartbreaking. I think it's a visual expression of how somebody feels about the city right now,“ said Cooper “And in itself, that's heartbreaking.”


Wong wants to see the glass panels replaced quickly.

"We need to restore the bridge back to the aesthetic beauty that it is."

Wong said the city will be on the hook for the near million dollar cost of repairing the vandalism because it self-insures.

While self insurance is a cost saving for the city overall, Wong said individual expensive incidents like this can have an impact on the city’s budget.

The bridge, built a decade ago in 2012, is so frequently vandalised that city officials recently launched a new campaign aimed at reducing intentional damage to the structure.

According to city officials, an average of six panels are broken every year, and it costs roughly $80,000 a year to remove and replace the broken panels. This does not include the cost of the panels themselves, as the city has been using replacement panels provided when the bridge was first built.

"Three weeks ago (the) city started doing research with a consultant to take a look at different materials for the side panels themselves, and we hope to get that back to council in the fall. However, Wong noted replacing the glass with some other material may require redesigning portions of the iconic bridge.

"It's a shame that people have taken to destroying a public amenity like this."

Anyone who witnesses Peace Bridge vandalism in progress is asked to call 911. Top Stories

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