Kitchener-Waterloo

​Prime minister statue project finally finds home in Waterloo Region

Councillors in Wilmot Township voted last night to host the beleaguered prime minister statue project. The 22 sculptures will be placed on the grounds surrounding Kilbride Castle and the Municipal Administration Complex, in Baden.

Sculptures to be placed on Kilbride Castle and Municipal Administration Complex grounds

After much controversy, it appears the Prime Minister statue project has found a home in Wilmot Township, after a vote Monday night. (Albert Delitala/CBC News)

A beleaguered prime minister statue project has finally found a home after two years of controversy.

After the City of Kitchener and officials at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo said no to the project, councillors in Wilmot Township, located just west of Kitchener, voted unanimously Monday night to offer up space for the statues.

"We decided we wanted to stay in the region and the Wilmot location seemed to be the best," said Jim Rodger, the organizer of the project. 

"It was a unanimous decision by the council, so we're comfortable proceeding," Rodger said. "We're very, very happy obviously, because now we can get around to the business of actually getting more of the sculptures created and placing them."  

The privately-funded project would see the creation 22 bronze sculptures of past Canadian prime ministers, and was initially conceived to mark Canada's upcoming 150th birthday. Proponents also hoped the statues could be used as a teaching device for the public. 

The grounds around Castle Kilbride in Baden, Ont., will be home to 22 statues of Canada's prime ministers. (Google StreetView)

The statues will now go in the village of Baden by the township's administration offices and Castle Kilbride.

"It's [Castle Kilbride] got great ties to Canada's history, it was the home of a parliamentarian for 18 years, there's an absolutely fabulous museum and restored Italianate villa on the property and there's nine acres of property that we can put the sculptures on." 

​Controversial project

Previous attempts to place the statues in Victoria Park and at Wilfrid Laurier University were met with controversy. 

In March 2014, Kitchener city council unanimously rejected the proposal, pointing to a survey that indicated residents opposed the idea. 

In June 2015, project organizers thought they had found a home for the sculptures at Wilfrid Laurier University, but shortly after the project was approved in June, a petition circulated to stop it. Opponents to the statues said that celebrating the country's past prime ministers would be culturally insensitive, given the university is built on land that traditionally belongs to First Nations people, and that not enough consultation was done.

In February the university's board of governors nixed the idea. 

But even that decision wasn't without criticism - none other than Conrad Black said the university "folded like a $3 suitcase" in the face of opposition to the project. 

The bronze statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that is currently at Laurier will be moved to the Castle Kilbride location. 

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