Original Published on Sep 21, 2022 at 05:28
By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
GUYSBOROUGH – Vandals destroyed the roadside library on Highway 16, located beside the Tracadie United Baptist Church, and the food pantry on the corner of Highway 16 and Upper Big Tracadie Road, on Sept. 17.
Local resident, volunteer and municipal councillor for the area Mary Desmond, who was instrumental in bringing both projects to fruition, spoke to The Journal about the damage on Monday morning (Sept. 19).
“A neighbour called me 7 a.m., Saturday,” Desmond said. The caller reported that neighbours near the church had ‘heard tires screeching and going on’ around 2 a.m.
In the morning light, residents saw the results of that unwelcome noise.
“The food pantry, the door was all bent, you can’t open the bottom part of the door. So, the food pantry was knocked right over. Someone put it back up, but you’ve got to take it down because you can’t use it,” said Desmond, describing the damage.
“The roadside library,” she continued, “that is destroyed. They even brought the concrete block right out [of] the ground, smashed the library itself right off the concrete slab. The books were all over the place. It was just a pure mess down there…It was a deliberate act.”
And this was not the first instance of vandalism affecting the area this summer. Desmond said, “This is twice now in the last two months that we’ve had vandalism of the food pantry.” As she did this past Saturday, Desmond also called the RCMP when the vandalism occurred in August.
As to what happens next, to restore the service provided to the community by the food pantry and the roadside library, Desmond said what funding she had left the buy provisions for the food pantry would go towards buying food cards that could be distributed in the community to those in need.
As for the roadside library, a local resident has offered to attempt to right the concrete slab with a tractor and see what might be salvageable of the wooden library box.
Both the food pantry and the roadside library were needed and well-used in the communities they served. Desmond said volunteers, mainly senior citizens, worked diligently to keep supplies in the pantry but found the workload could sometimes double or triple when vandals would break containers in the pantry or passers-by chose that site to dump garbage.
“You can’t expect the seniors to be doing this on a constant basis…and the need is so great,” said Desmond about the clean-up effort required at the food pantry.
Desmond said she would like the vandals to know that their actions impacted more than the physical structures in the community, “Do they realize what they’ve done to other people that are in need…that’s the worst part. They might think, it’s a fun night out, destroying something like that, but do they realize the damage that they’re not only doing to the property, but they’re doing to the people that are in need of that service? The little library, there were tons of people using that.”
And the food pantry, Desmond said it has been used more this past year than ever before, with volunteers seeing a restocked pantry almost emptied in a day.
The RCMP are investigating the incident and anyone with information is encouraged to contact them.