Ottawa Mayor calls the Monument to Victims of Communism a 'blight'
Published Tuesday, February 10, 2015 5:40PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, February 10, 2015 6:50PM EST
Ottawa's Mayor calls the planned Memorial to Victims of Communism a "blight" that will overwhelm the beauty of the Supreme Court. Jim Watson is hoping a growing chorus of opposition about the site will convince the federal government to re-think it. The massive monument is planned for a plot of land along Wellington Street between the Supreme Court Building and Library and Archives Canada. The mayor says he's not only frustrated with the scope of the monument but with the way it was handled, thrust upon the city, he says, with no consultation.
Nestled along historic Confederation Boulevard, adjacent to the majestic Supreme Court building, the Memorial to the Victims of Communism would be a bold statement there. It would involve a series of concrete rows, rising 14 metres high in some spots, covered in millions of memory squares to represent souls lost to communism.
‘What is it supposed to represent,’ says Anastasia Zhurabel, as she looks at the artist’s drawing of it, ‘it looks like modern museum to me.’
‘It’s very modern looking, I like it,’ says Marguerite Van Eeden.
Eldon Payette adds, ‘I think this (land) would be better served as a park with a small monument to reflect the message. That looks big and overbearing’
Those are the mayor's thoughts, too.
‘I think it does not fit on the site,’ says Mayor Jim Watson, ‘I think it takes away from the beauty of the
Supreme Court building. I think it is a blight on that particular site.’
Watson says the federal government thrust this decision on residents with no chance to talk about it.
For close to 100 years, the land for the monument had been set aside for a new federal court building, part of the judicial precinct. But in 2012, the federal government donated the land, worth about a million dollars, to a charity called Tribute to Liberty.’
‘I imagine it’s expensive,’ says another man walking by the site, ‘That’s what my taxes are going to pay for?’
Even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin, has weighed in, saying the memorial by the Supreme Court would convey a sense of bleakness in a space dedicated to the administration of justice.
Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky hopes a new minister at the helm of the National Capital Commission, Pierre Poilievre, will convince the government to rethink its decision.
‘It's his opportunity to say he is listening to the people of Ottawa-Gatineau,’ says Padolsky, ‘that remains to be seen whether a fresh set of eyes will made a difference but I hope so.’
Padolsky says he'd like to see the monument shifted down the road to a place called the "Garden of the Provinces". That is where it was supposed to go in the first place. Construction on the monument is expected to start in the fall.