New development could displace historic totem pole at Ottawa's Scouts Canada headquarters
It's been standing tall on Baseline Road in Ottawa's west end for more than 60 years.
With the colour fading from Ottawa's harsh climate, the totem pole in front of the Scouts Canada building needs to make way for a proposed development.
The Scouts Canada National Headquarters on Baseline Road is the site for three proposed high-rise towers. If approved, the proposed development would be home to 952 residential units, according to the submitted proposal.
"With the shift to remote work, a move to online retail, and the transformation of the neighbourhood surrounding our Ottawa office, we have identified an opportunity to seek out a partner to redevelop or purchase our National Service Centre at 1345 Baseline Road," Kayleigh Kanoza, Scouts Canada Director of Change and Strategy said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa. "We intend to remain in Ottawa and are looking to prioritize program space for our youth members, which could also provide space for our staff and volunteers to collaborate."
The totem pole has been along Baseline Road since 1961. According to Scouts Canada, it was a gift from the British Columbia government to celebrate the newly opened headquarters.
"Designed and created by Kwakiutl Chief and world-renowned northwest coast carver, Chief Mungo Martin, and his grandson, Henry Hunt. It has become a well-known landmark in the Ottawa area and has been designated a heritage landmark by the City," Kanoza said.
The development, along with a proposed rapid bus route corridor on Baseline Road, would mean the totem pole would need to move.
"For the past few months, we have engaged the family of Chief Mungo Martin on how best to honour the legacy of the totem pole in a culturally appropriate way," Kanoza said.
"We are committed to respecting the wishes of the family and are actively exploring options to have the totem pole restored in collaboration with the family – many of whom have carried on the carving legacy of Chief Mungo Martin. Given that the totem pole’s current home will soon become part of the Baseline BRT route, we will also work with the city of Ottawa to identify an appropriate public space for the totem pole to stand, where the community can honour its historical & cultural significance."
The area councillor says the totem pole in front of the Scouts Canada building is a landmark in the west end.
"If the city of Ottawa can facilitate a new home for that totem pole, then we will do just that," Coun. Riley Brockington told CTV News Ottawa. "There are a number of development proposals both in River Ward, and across the street in Knoxdale-Merivale, so Baseline is going to see significant intensification over the next couple of decades."
Brockington adds that the plan for a rapid bus route corridor along Baseline Road.
"We want people to live near these corridors, and, of course, use public transit to where they need to go."
The redevelopment plan still has to be approved by Ottawa City Council.