The South Waterloo Naval Veterans Association, a vibrant social hub located in Cambridge, has been beleaguered with persistent vandalism that has targeted its air conditioning units. Specifically, the spotlights of the trespassers have been trained on the copper wiring of the units, which has been severed on three separate occasions since the month of June.
“Approximately $15 worth of copper is what they’re taking,” lamented John Bernard, the Association’s President. It’s a seemingly insignificant amount, but the repercussions are far from negligible.
The first incident, which took place in June, saw the club shell out a staggering $3,500 to restore functionality to its impaired AC unit. Barely a week after the unit had been mended, it suffered yet another hit, leaving the club members to once more grapple with repair costs. Following this second incident, a fence was swiftly erected, affixed securely to existing structures in a bid to deter the brazen trespassers.
However, despite these protective measures, misfortune once again came knocking just two days following the most recent repair.
“Now, we are staring down the barrel of more exorbitant costs – the exact total for repairs is yet unclear, but it hovers, dauntingly, in the thousands,” worries Bernard.
Within the weathered walls of the building on 30 Cambridge Street, a diverse community of around 120 members – seven of whom are veterans – have found a gathering space since the 1980s. These members depend on rental income from the top floor to keep their shared space alive.
But without functional air conditioning, the future of this initiative, and the club itself, is thrown into uncertainty.
“We are left with no choice but to appeal to our community for assistance,” expressed Bernard, a note of desperation lining his voice.
While vandalism has always been an unfortunate feature of the club’s existence, this recent surge in theft represents a new and concerning trend.
“What truly worries me is the prospect of our members being accosted by intruders in our space,” Bernard added, articulating concerns about safety along with financial strain.
In response to these challenges, the organization has lodged a formal report with the local law enforcement and sought assistance from the City of Cambridge and local political representatives.
“I can do nothing more at this juncture other than alert my Member of Parliament and my Member of Provincial Parliament about our predicament,” Bernard shared.
Upon reaching out for help, the City of Cambridge advised the besieged association to seek a Crime Prevention through Environmental Design audit by the Waterloo Regional Police. Reports suggest, however, that the police are yet to respond to this request, and the situation continues to develop.