Liberals agree to rethink controversial memorial to victims of communism

It's back to the drawing board — and a less controversial location -- for a much-maligned memorial to victims of communism in the national capital, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly announced Thursday.

OTTAWA — It’s back to the drawing board — and a less controversial location — for a much-maligned memorial to victims of communism in the national capital, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly announced Thursday.

Prior to the October federal election, the previous Conservative government had been planning to build the sprawling monument near the Supreme Court of Canada, despite a political outcry over the project’s design and location.

Instead, while a memorial will still proceed, it will be in a different location — a less prominent area of parkland known as the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, about a half-kilometre west of the country’s top court.

That location will be subject to the approval of the National Capital Commission, Joly told an Ottawa news conference.

Joly, who consulted with 30 groups and individuals shortly after the Liberals came to power, said the Canadian and international design experts she spoke with agreed the project should be reconsidered.

“Throughout my consultations, there was a clear consensus that the monument ought to be moved,” she said. “The original site of the project, the Garden of Provinces and Territories, again had consensus.”

The memorial was first proposed in 2008, but became a political football in the months before the federal election campaign when critics of both its design and location labelled it as a vote-getter for the Conservative party.

The ensuing controversy tainted the project, said Joly.

“The process of this monument was too political, too divisive, and ultimately far from its goal of remembering the horror of victims of communism.”

A federal panel that advises the National Capital Commission had lambasted the initial, sombre design for the memorial as potentially “detrimental to the dignity” of nearby Parliament Hill.

It had also flagged concerns about the project’s “negative symbolism” and structural safety.

And last summer, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Heritage Ottawa and architects Shirley Blumberg and Barry Padolsky filed a federal lawsuit one day after the NCC unveiled plans for a smaller, less-intrusive version of the monument.

Even that smaller version will have to be scrapped, since it won’t work at the new location, Joly said. Canadians will be asked to weigh in on alternatives through a process that’s expected to begin early in the new year.

“There will be a consultation process, whereby Canadians across this country will have the chance to have their voice heard from the outset of the memorial design process through the final selection.”

The project, originally tabbed at $5.5 million, should cost no more than $3 million, with the federal government capping its contribution at $1.5 million, Joly added.

Completion of the memorial is set for 2018.

Just Posted

The best caesar in Canada can be found in Sylvan Lake

Kjeryn Dakin’s Tragically Hips caesar won the national Best Caesar in Town competition

Family says five found dead after Alberta fire were couple and their grandkids

ROCHFORT BRIDGE, Alta. — The family of five people whose bodies were… Continue reading

Rescue dogs come to Canada in search of forever families

There were dozens of dogs in the back of the van travelling… Continue reading

WATCH: Parkland Garden Centre hosts weekly Craft and Market Sale

A weekly event hosted by the Parkland Nurseries Garden Centre gives Red… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train supports Lacombe Food Bank

Madeline Merlo and JUNO Award nominee Scott Helman both performed

Your community calendar

Friday The Annual Old-Fashioned Country Christmas is being held Dec. 13 at… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault heads to Hollywood to talk carbon and business

LOS ANGELES — After a tumultous legislature session, Quebec Premier Francois Legault… Continue reading

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to… Continue reading

Flames edge Kings 4-3 to remain unbeaten under interim head coach Geoff Ward

CALGARY — From his contributions on the scoresheet to his role in… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

Google taps into Montreal’s rich gaming industry for first-party Stadia content

Sebastien Puel has seen Montreal evolve into a game development powerhouse over… Continue reading

Man dead after lengthy standoff with RCMP at home northeast of Calgary

COCHRANE, Alta. — A man in Alberta has died after an officer… Continue reading

Turkey trouble: Quebec village looks to dump wild bird running afoul in town

MONTREAL — In the small Quebec town of St-Prosper-de-Champlain — population 552… Continue reading

Most Read