A 3,175-kg block of Tyndall limestone honouring hundreds of Central Alberta war heroes will be protected for future generations if it becomes a Municipal Historic Resource, says a city report.
The Heritage Preservation Committee has suggested that the Cenotaph, located in the 4900 block of Ross Street, merits the designation.
“Preserving the Cenotaph in its current location creates a focal point for reflection, and inspires a feeling of civic pride in the history of our city,” said committee chair Sheila Bannerman.
The statue of an unknown soldier was erected in the middle of Ross Street in 1922 by Maj. Frank H. Norbury, a decorated veteran. The soldier was positioned facing towards the CPR station, from which most of the soldiers left Red Deer for the war.
“This latter point was part of one of the longest controversies about the Cenotaph,” writes Red Deer historian Michael Dawe in a report going forward to city council on Monday. “Some had wanted it in the centre of the City Square (now City Hall Park).”
The majority wanted it facing directly towards the station and in the middle of Red Deer’s busiest street so that it would be a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by servicemen and servicewomen, Dawe added.
Recently, members of Red Deer’s Korean Veterans Association appealed to Mayor Morris Flewwelling to consider relocating the cenotaph to City Hall Park, where they felt it would be safer and easier to visit.
“We’d still like to see it in the park, but the city isn’t budging,” said association secretary-treasurer Doug McNeely on Friday. “It’s in the wrong location — it’s a hazard.”
Red Deer city manager Craig Curtis said there has been significant opposition in the past to move it to City Hall Park.
“We’re about to build a little plaza that will link it to the adjacent sidewalk, likely next year,” Curtis said.
Curtis said the plaza is safe for those to walk up to since vehicle traffic wouldn’t abut it.
If council gives approval to designate it Municipal Historic Resource, the city’s application will go forward.
“It’s more of a formality because city council wouldn’t destroy it anyway,” Curtis said.
With this new designation, the city can apply for provincial funding to help maintain the site.