Hussars regiment withdraws armoured vehicle donation to Sackville
Some residents opposed installation of Cougar AVGP in New Brunswick town park
The armed forces regiment that donated an armoured vehicle to the Town of Sackville has withdrawn its donation amid controversy surrounding the gift, the town announced Friday.
Town council voted in February to accept the armoured vehicle, a Cougar AVGP, as a gift from the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) regiment. The town had planned to install the vehicle in Sackville Memorial Park this summer.
"In the interim, we have received feedback from the community reflecting a number of different perspectives on this donation, including those of the indigenous community," the town said in a statement.
"After hearing these perspectives, the Hussars made the decision to withdraw the donation and offered to explore alternative ways to memorialize the special relationship between the Hussars and the Town.
"We thank the Hussars for their generosity and the positive gesture."
The gift was met with opposition by some residents, calling it a liability issue and an upsetting symbol for people who have already experienced war.
The park also features an armoured vehicle called a Ferret, a six-metre cenotaph with plaques memorializing local soldiers who died in previous wars, a propeller and an anchor.
Resident Jeska Grue said what's already there is plenty.
"I don't feel that it's the best way for a memorial park [to] commemorate veterans and those affected by war," she told CBC News earlier this month.
She said it could be an upsetting symbol for people who have first-hand experience with war.
Jim Lockyer, honorary colonel of the 8th Canadian Hussars, has said the Cougar should act as a way to commemorate previous battles.
"This is not glorifying war, if anything it's a memento to discourage it," he said.
Meanwhile, RCMP are investigating obscene graffiti someone painted last weekend on the armoured vehicle already on display at the park. Police are investigating whether the vandalism is connected to the controversy.
A special council meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the issue. The town said it will be up to the presenters to determine if they still want to address the Hussar's decision.
The town said in the statement it would like to further discuss "the future development of Memorial Park and establishing suitable plans to recognize all veterans."
With files from Tori Weldon and Elizabeth Fraser