The colourful spots of the Poco Dots Child Care Centre van have become a staple in Port Coquitlam.
Vandals, however, saw it as an easy target over the weekend.
“When I pulled in I was surprised to see that our van and our daycare had been hit so hard with graffiti,” said manager Dave Larocque.
Offensive, racist and homophobic messages and symbols were scrawled across the non-profit child care centre on Fernwood Avenue. Next door, the British Columbia Christian Academy and several passenger vehicles were also tagged.
Larocque said he immediately called police on Saturday morning, who told him they were looking into the incident as a hate crime.
“Everyone is horrified,” he said. “Not just by the damage that’s occurred but again by the messages.”
Risa McLaughlin, who sends her daughter to the daycare, said this level of hatred and disrespect is tough to explain to children.
“She’s just learning to read. She’s able to sound out those terrible words on there,” she said.
The toughest blow for Poco Dots’ bottom line is the damage to its van. The value of the vehicle is likely less than the cost of a new paint job, leaving the replacement cost through insurance insufficient to purchase a similar van.
“We don’t have the money to replace vehicles and paint jobs and it’s caused a lot of stress,” said McLaughlin.
Armed with anti-graffiti solution and rags, many of the parents who benefit from the affordable childcare decided to spend their Sunday cleaning up the mess. Trying to teach their children a more positive lesson in community, the group also scraped away the markings from the Christian Academy vehicles as well.
Larocque said he’s thankful for everyone’s help, but hopes the vandals truly understand the impact of their actions.
“I don’t think any of us are mad. We’re just disappointed.”