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Thieves blamed for missing memorial plaques at downtown park

Bolted and glued to cement bases, removed plaques ‘not of any value,’ says city rep

Someone absconded with more than a dozen memorial plaques from a downtown area park, leaving discoloured cement stands in place where people would visit to reminisce about loved ones.

The plaques were removed from Joseph Wolfond Park West on Arthur Street, on the east side of the Speed River just upsteam from Goldie Mill Park.

“It wasn’t city staff that removed those plaques,” confirmed Meghan Hunter, the city’s parks infrastructure and construction program manager, who noted about 90 per cent of memorial plaques had been taken from the park. “Vandalism in our parks has been a continuous issue.”

It’s not known precisely when the plaques were taken. Hunter said city officials learned of their absence when contacted by GuelphToday about the issue.

Plaques were taken from the base of numerous trees as well as structures, with efforts focused on the north portion of the park.

“It takes a lot of strength,” Hunter said of removing the plaques. “They’ll definitely have some tools with them.

“(The plaques) are quite secure, with bolts and glue.”

All that effort is likely for little to no return, as Hunter noted the plaques are made of an alloy and aren’t strictly brass.

“They’re not of any value,” she said.

This is far from the first time memorial plaques have been removed from public spaces. The issue happens “every couple of years,” said Hunter, noting this is the first time she’s aware of that Joseph Wolfond Park has been targetted.

“Riverside Park is a big one … it seems to be fairly continuous,” she said of areas where plaques go missing, adding there’s been similar reports of thefts at Royal City Park and Herb Markle Park in the past.

There have been no other reports of missing memorial plaques this year, Hunter confirmed.

“We’re monitoring the situation.”

The plaques will be replaced based on requests from those who initially purchased them.

"It's a little more difficult to replace these plaques than to put new ones in," Hunter added, noting the concrete base where plaques are mounted are typically damaged during the removal process.