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Replacing stolen plaques around Red Deer is taking much time and energy, says city official

Replacements have cost taxpayers about $12,000 since 2013
City of Red Deer staff are still working to replace a stolen metal plaque memorializing the lives of airmen lost in 20th Century wars. It was among many that were pried off around the city by metal thieves. (Contributed photo)

As Remembrance Day approaches, a Red Deer monument to airmen who died for this country remains without a plaque — which was stolen by metal thieves.

A disheartened Al Low, president of the Central Alberta Wing Royal Canadian Air Force Association had spotted the desecrated monument in City Hall Park last summer and was “aghast” at this disrespectful crime.

City of Red Deer’s community development superintendent, Bobby-Jo Stannard has since been working with fabricators to replicate the text of the original bronze plaque from a photo previously taken of it.

“We’d prefer to have it up by Remembrance Day,” she added. But Stannard isn’t sure yet whether the replacement, made of stainless steel to be less desirable to thieves, will be completed by Nov. 11.

The airmen’s monument is just one of many metal markers stolen from around the city during the pandemic when fewer people were out and about in public places.

Among the swiped plaques that were replaced by the city with stainless steel versions is a large marker recounting the achievements of late environmental advocate Michael O’Brien at his namesake wetland, north of Clearview Meadows.


- Plaque stolen from Red Deer City Hall Park

Citizen-of-the-year plaques mounted around the base of the decorative Rotary Club clock on Ross Street were also stolen, said Stannard — along with many memorial markers off benches and picnic tables around the city’s parks.

She feels re-creating missing plaques has taken a lot of time and energy, costing the city about $12,000 since 2013. “It is very frustrating for our community groups. We want to ensure that our history and our historical figures are honoured,” Stannard added.

One stolen metal marker was returned to the City of Red Deer earlier this year by Corp. Mike Evans, of Red Deer RCMP community policing, after it was found in the trunk of a vehicle with a stolen license plate.

Evans said on Wednesday that he’s pleased with changes made to the city’s scrap metal bylaw that now requires dealers to record the identity, appearance, date of transaction, and contact information of anyone who tries to sell them scrap metal.

This will make it harder for thieves to unload stolen property, said Evans — and hopefully reduce the appeal of prying off a plaque to try to make a few bucks.

Low looks forward to having the monument to the lost airmen restored. He said members of his Central Alberta Wing Royal Canadian Air Force Association will then have a re-dedication ceremony sometime in the new year.

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