Victoria Park statue project defeated in council vote

In an 8-1 vote, Kitchener council decided Monday night not to pursue a project that would have seen statues of all 22 of Canada's Prime Ministers placed in Victoria Park.

Project supporters say they're looking at other locations for prime minister statues

The 22 life-size statues would have been placed behind the clock tower in Kitchener's Victoria Park. (CBC)

In an 8-1 vote, Kitchener council decided Monday night not to pursue a project that would have placed statues of all 22 Canadian Prime Ministers in the city's downtown Victoria Park.

Mayor Carl Zehr was the only member of council who voted against the motion to scrap the project.

But the project organizers say the result "wasn't a surprise" and are looking at other possibilities for the statues, according to Jim Rodger, one of the community members behind the proposal.

The statue project in Victoria Park would have cost $2 million in total. Project organizers had asked city council for $300,000, over three years, to cover the cost of the statue bases as well as electrical and landscaping elements.  

The results of a public survey by the city in December showed that 79 per cent of respondents did not like the project “in concept.” That number was based on a total of 2,579 responses.

Statue group looking at other options

"We saw that coming, so we took it in stride and we are just keeping at it," said Rodger, a former Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate principal and one of the main organizers behind the proposed project. Others in the group behind the statues include Governor General David Johnston and Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo.

"We have some other irons in the fire. Even during the time that it's been before council we've been working on some other angles and we've been moving some other parts of the project forward," said Rodger.   

The group is in conversations with artists, both local and further afield, about the statues and is looking at other locations for the statue project, according to Rodger. 

"We didn't want to be going cap in hand to somebody else saying that, 'We can't be here, so can we be there?' So we are working through it with a couple of other possibilities and we're just moving it forward. But we anticipate that probably in a couple of weeks that we can have the siting looked after."

Rodgers wouldn't reveal what other locations are being considered for the project.