Red Deer resident Aileen George was disheartened when more than two dozen plaques were stolen in Barrett and Coronation parks, including from a bench memorializing her deceased daughter. (Advocate file photo).

City of Red Deer to replace stolen park bench memorials

Aileen George is giving the replacement marker to her grandchildren

A Red Deer woman who had her late daughter’s memorial plaque stolen from a downtown park bench is glad the City of Red Deer is replacing it.

But Aileen George said she doesn’t have the heart to affix a new plaque onto the same Barrett Park bench, since it could very well be stolen again.

Her daughter, Donna Ault, died at the age of 51 during a fishing trip in 2004. Her memorial was among 25 plaques that went missing in Barrett and Coronation parks in August.

City of Red Deer officials reported the thefts to police at the time, and asked area scrap dealers to look out for the stolen plaques, but the missing memorials never turned up.

Parks superintendent Trevor Poth said a decision was made for the city to replace these markers, which had been paid for by various local families.

Since there’s no insurance on them, the funds will come from the city’s general revenues.

“It will be one-time thing, because so many of the plaques were stolen at one time,” said Poth.

The bronze replacements will be created in the same style. But future park memorials will be redesigned to look plainer, said Poth.

While bronze is not very valuable, someone likely thought the markers were copper — which is worth more. Poth doesn’t want that mistake to happen again.

The families were told they could either have the replacements re-installed on park benches or picnic tables, or they could just keep the plaques as a family memento.

Most opted to have them re-installed in the parks and keep paying the city’s memorial bench maintenance fee, said Poth.

But George plans to gift the replacement plaque to her grandchildren, in memory of their mother — “which is perfectly understandable,” added Poth.

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