Bob Schulz just wanted to do a good deed.
His grandkids have participated in Abbotsford BMX, and he knows the group’s money is tight. Last year, they lost their government gaming grant, which previously averaged about $15,000 a year.
Now, they’re working on a elite-level upgrade to their track at Abbotsford Exhibition Park, and the cost is estimated to be $260,000. Most of that has to be fundraised.
Bob decided he would do what he could to help. About three weeks ago, he brought his Cat 420E backhoe to the site and spent some time here and there getting the area ready for a crew to come in.
They will construct a new start hill as part of upgrades to develop Canada’s first supercross track, similar in size and structure to the one used at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Bob, a building contractor, volunteered his time and the use of his machine, which normally sits on his property. He bought the four-year old backhoe in January for about $70,000.
Last Tuesday, he finished the site work and headed home to watch the Vancouver Canucks take on the Chicago Blackhawks in game four of their playoff series, which the Canucks went on to lose 7-2.
He left the backhoe behind so that others could use it when needed.
That evening, he got a call from Steve Baxter, president of Abbotsford BMX.
“I have some bad news for you,” Steve said.
“It can’t be any worse than the hockey game,” Bob said.
“Your machine’s on fire.”
Steve explained that staff at Exhibition Park had reported seeing a flash and then seeing flames around the backhoe. Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service had been called to the scene.
It appeared that a Molotov cocktail (a breakable bottle containing a flammable liquid) had been thrown at the machine, all but destroying it.
Bob does not have any insurance on the backhoe. He didn’t feel the need, as he stores it on his property just behind his house.
He is now looking at either selling the machine for parts or finding a used cab to replace the damaged one. He estimates this will cost $40,000 to $50,000.
Steve said it’s “disappointing” that vandals would destroy the property of a selfless individual just to get their own kicks.
“The club is not at all in a position to help this gentleman out with his machine. I wish we were,” he said.