Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff and South Kent Coun. Anthony Ceccacci recently expressed anger at the reported theft of a commemorative plaque from the grounds of the former Southwestern Regional Centre site at Cedar Springs.
Police received a report that the plaque, installed five years ago as a memorial to those who were harmed at the facility, had been removed.
“Theft and vandalism of any kind is a stain on our community but when that theft is in regard to a vulnerable segment of the population, it is particularly disgusting,” Canniff said in a media release. “I urge anyone with information on the incident to contact the Chatham-Kent police or Crime Stoppers.”
The mayor said vandalism and theft costs all local residents in terms of higher property taxes and insurance costs.
“If the incidents happen to public property, ultimately, the taxpayer foots the bill while private property incidents cost the owner and drive up insurance rates,” he said.
Ceccacci said he is “really disappointed. I received the call and drove out, hoping it wasn’t true, but it is. To the residents and families of those involved, it has a great meaning. It represents so much more than just a plaque. We’re hoping that whoever took it realizes that fact. We’re hoping for a safe return.”
The centre operated from 1961 to 2008. Five years ago, the province reached a settlement regarding what it called “abuse and neglect” of some patients who were placed at the facility due to developmental issues.