Two wood-burning stoves were stolen from remote warming huts in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region this week, leaving ski and snowmobile club administrators shocked and concerned about how park users will get warm between runs.
The first theft took place at a warming hut off a trail in the municipality of Trécesson, Que. run by the Amos snowmobile club. The second theft was at a hut in La Corne, Que., 60 kilometres away.
André Malenfant, president of the snowmobile club, said they have never seen anything like it before.
“They took a chain saw, cut out a piece of the floor, even the framing of the cabin where the stove was,” he said. “They left with a chunk of the floor and the whole stove.”
The stoves were stolen as the region, like many parts of Quebec, is facing a bitter cold snap.
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for Abitibi-Témiscamingue, where it is expected to feel as cold as -45 this coming week.
‘It‘s not ideal‘
The cost to repair the cabin is estimated at around $800, said Malenfant.
But given the frigid weather, the repairs have to be done and the stoves have to be replaced to keep park users warm.
“We don‘t have a choice because people will stop there to get warm. If there isn‘t a stove, there won‘t be any way to warm up,” he said.
“It‘s not ideal, that‘s for sure.”
The mayor of La Corne told Radio-Canada that he plans to install security cameras in the warming hut going forward to deter “clowns who think that anything goes.”
“We‘re going to fix the problem,” said Éric Comeau. “We‘re going to install a camera to monitor the stove. We have to admit it‘s come to this.”
Vandalism isn‘t common in the small municipality, which has a population of 700, according to Comeau.