Kingston Royal Canadian Legion Branch 560 on Montreal Street has been hit again by vandals, experiencing a second break-in in six months.
“It’s disconcerting, it’s been terrible,” says legion public relations officer Kevin Hammond-Cape. “It’s causing people to not want to be in the area. Guests, customers don’t want to be here.”
Hammond-Cape says the additional cost of repairs due to vandalism and theft is causing a big strain.
“Not just on the business, not just on the legion, but on the community,” he says. “The legion raises money through donations and fundraising that goes back into the community. And we’re having to take funds out of that to repair windows and doors.”
The most recent incident happened sometime overnight Wednesday, with Hammond-Cape coming across the intruder around 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
He walked into the building to find a smashed window and a man asleep on the floor, a scene that’s becoming all too familiar.
But break-ins aren’t all that the legion is facing.
“We have two outdoor storage facilities here; both of them have been broken into multiple times to the point where we can’t secure the facilities or store anything in there anymore,” Hammond-Cape says. “We’ve lost lawn tractors, we had all the ropes taken from all our flags, they’ve broken the power outlets outside the facility, we’ve had to lock up the outside water sources because they were breaking into that.”
He says the problems began in 2020 when a homeless encampment first appeared across the street in Belle Park.
“In no means are we, you know, trying to belittle or attack this community that needs help. We understand that they need assistance and that, you know, they don’t necessarily follow the rules of society. We’re just asking the community and the city to come up with a solution, to make sure that we’re not putting out big money for these things because of this.”
The city told Global News in a statement that, “the City of Kingston cannot speak to the correlation between break-ins and vandalism and homelessness and addiction, but we are very aware of the housing and opioid crises affecting Kingston and communities across Canada.”
Kingston police confirm that a 39-year-old man who was arrested on scene is being charged and held for a bail hearing.
When it comes to the damage caused, the cost has been estimated between $800 and $1,200, and that money will be coming out of the legion’s pocket.