A woman who dragged logs and rocks onto North Shore trails to slow down mountain bikers – an act she acknowledged could have seriously hurt someone – has received three years' probation, in a case that highlighted the divide between riders and hikers in the popular recreation area.
Tineke Kraal, who pleaded guilty to mischief by willfully rendering property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective, must also complete 150 hours of community service and cannot set foot on any B.C. trails that are multiuse or designated for mountain bikes.
Ms. Kraal, 65, was arrested in January, 2015, after two mountain bikers who suspected the trails were being sabotaged set up hidden cameras. The cameras captured Ms. Kraal laying debris across the trails as she walked her dogs, and her arrest generated significant media attention.
She ultimately admitted to placing 10 to 40 logs on trails on any given day, over a period of approximately two years. She acknowledged mountain bikers could have been hurt, but denied that was her intention.
Ms. Kraal's lawyer asked the court Thursday for a conditional discharge without entry of a criminal conviction. The crown sought a three-month period of house arrest.
Judge John Milne said a conditional discharge without entry of a criminal conviction would not meet the need for general deterrence. Nor did he agree with the Crown's request for a jail term.
"The entry in the criminal record reflecting the criminal behaviour of Ms. Kraal is sufficient to denounce the acts and to deter others, followed by a lengthy term of probation," he told Provincial Court.
Court heard Ms. Kraal hiked the trails on Fromme Mountain, in North Vancouver, for approximately three decades. An agreed statement of facts said she believed mountain bikers were wrecking the trails and wanted to both slow them down, and enhance the area for hikers.
In August, 2014, some mountain bikers began to complain online about the debris on the trails. In November of that year, two of the mountain bikers began hiking the trails every day to document the debris. They also installed motion-activated night-vision cameras that captured Ms. Kraal laying the logs and rocks down.
The mountain bikers took their footage to police and Ms. Kraal was arrested. According to the agreed statement of facts, she repeatedly told police she had not been placing logs on trails designated for mountain biking or as multiuse. When asked about one of the trails that was designated primarily for mountain bikes, she said it was unmarked.
Ms. Kraal apologized to the court Thursday, and the judge said he believed her remorse was genuine. He did, however, at one point, call her lack of insight "troubling." She had said her dogs were the ultimate victim of the situation, since they were no longer being walked along the trails.
Martin Peters, Ms. Kraal's lawyer, said the judge's ruling split things down the middle. He said Ms. Kraal didn't get what she wanted, nor did the Crown.
"The real sanction here and the real message to the public is Mrs. Kraal now has a criminal record," he told reporters outside court.
When asked how his client was doing, he said, "She's okay." He said she would not be speaking with reporters.
Shaun Rivers, one of the mountain bikers who set up cameras, said the sentence was "fitting." He said a large number of people were affected by Ms. Kraal's actions.
"There was definitely injury potential based on what I saw when I was removing and documenting the debris that was left," he said, though no one was actually injured as a result of Ms. Kraal's actions.
Mr. Rivers said relations between riders and hikers on the North Shore have improved.
"We've been bridging this gap between users for a lot of years. This is just a speed bump that came in, but it also helped to have people think about what's going on up there. And that we're not a mountain biker, we're not a hiker, we're not a dog walker, we're all community users of our forest," he said.