The Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation has applied for additional public funding for its eight-storey Mother Canada project in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
A spokesperson for the foundation says it is exploring support options through the federal government's Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program — a funding pool of $150 million set aside to celebrate the country's 150th birthday.
According to the Canada 150 website, the federal government says that money can support projects that rehabilitate existing community facilities across Canada.
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Peter Stoffer, the MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore and the NDP's veterans Affairs critic, says he will withdraw as an honourary patron of the Mother Canada project if the federal funding is granted.
"One of the three conditions I put on [my patronage] were, it had to meet the highest of environmental standards, the surrounding communities had to have full buy-in and it had to be privately funded," he said.
But Stoffer said he doubts the federal government will give the project substantial funding because it has so far been controversial.
Project managers have previously said only private funding would be sought to pay for construction.
According to the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation's tax records, it has already received $90,000 in federal money.
The Mother Canada statue is part of a proposed multimillion-dollar memorial to Canada's war dead in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The memorial's centrepiece statue would be 24 metres high and feature a woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe. The plan also includes parking for up to 100 vehicles, a souvenir shop and an interpretive centre at Green Cove.
The project has been a source of controversy between the foundation, Parks Canada and Canadians who either support or oppose its construction.
$6,000 in the bank
To complete the first phase of the project by the planned deadline of 2017, the foundation needs $25 million.
Last year it raised $865,000 in donations and got thousands more through other unnamed sources. The foundation spent $877,000 — more than $600,000 on the environmental impact analysis as well as communications.
It ended the year with $6,000 in the bank.
Sean Howard, a spokesperson for Friends of Green Cove — which is opposed to having the statue at its proposed location — said now that the foundation is asking for more public money, the coalition is renewing demands that Parks Canada call a time out on the project.
"We were told this was going to be a 100 per cent private development, no taxpayer money," Howard said.
"They got $100,000 from Parks Canada. They are looking for a $1 million, maybe, from Canada 150. How much else are they going to look for from how many other federal agencies? I mean, this is not the project they said it was."
Meanwhile in Ingonish, a group called People North of Smokey Who Agree to a Monument is asking supporters to go to the local legion to sign a petition supporting the project.