Several signs with information on an upcoming public hearing regarding a land swap in Summerland were defaced sometime overnight Tuesday.
In total, five of the eight recently installed signs were vandalized, with the messages: "Stop the Swap," "No," "Save the ALR," and "Save the Farmland."
"It is unfortunate that our efforts to engage our citizens and provide information on this important issue is being compromised by a very small minority," said Mayor Janice Perrino.
Organizers of Stop the Swap, a movement opposed to the proposal to remove 199 acres of land from the ALR, say they had nothing to do with the vandalism.
Erin Carlson issued an open letter to the citizens of Summerland today, Wednesday, that states:
"I was both shocked and disappointed this morning to see the newly posted Notice of Public Hearing signs, defaced.
As the spokesperson and face of the Stop the Swap movement I am writing this letter to assure the public that we were in no way connected to the incident. None of the people within our group did this. We do not know who did it.
On Monday, we spent hundreds of dollars to send you all a FAQ sheet explaining the issue at hand. For someone to take a can of spray paint around town in the middle of the night does not help our cause and it is destructive in more ways than one."
Stop the Swap has held a rally on the issue and attended the council meeting where it was voted on by council.
Others who support the movement, said they were shocked by the vandalism.
"I strongly support Stop the Swap, because I want this to remain agricultural land. Once it's gone it's gone forever," said resident George Chadburn. "But I think it's horrible someone defaced the signs, because we are trying to be positive in our message."
Councillor Peter Waterman said he does not believe the people involved in the movement were behind the vandalism.
"They are too professional, and they have gone out of their way to avoid this," he said. "I am terribly disappointed by this. It's a major issue within our community, and no one needs to go to a level that is nasty and divisive."
The public hearing on the exclusion of 199 acres from the ALR and inclusion of 226 acres is at 7 p.m., March 3 at the Arena Banquet Room in Summerland.