Jim Watson joins critics of 'victims of communism' monument location

Ottawa's mayor has added his voice to the chorus of those who oppose the location of a $5.5-million "victims of communism" monument along Wellington Street in the city's downtown core.

Vacant site to be used between Supreme Court of Canada, Library and Archives Canada buildings

This was the winning design for the new National Memorial to Victims of Communism on Wellington Street in Ottawa. Several people and groups have been critical of the monument's location, design or both. (Tribute to Liberty)

Ottawa's mayor has joined a growing list of detractors who oppose the location of a national memorial for victims of communism, set to be built along Wellington Street in the Nation's Capital.

The $5.5 million-dollar monument by a Toronto architect features six rising, concrete slabs covered with millions of "memory squares" to commemorate lives lost under various communist regimes.

In November, the National Capital Commission approved construction of the monument on a vacant site in downtown Ottawa, which is between the Supreme Court of Canada and Library and Archives Canada buildings on Wellington Street.

The location has drawn complaints from a number of parties, including Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson on Wednesday, who said the NCC did not consult the City of Ottawa about the location.

"This was sprung on everyone and announced with no consultation whatsoever," said Watson.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the NCC failed to consult the City of Ottawa regarding the location of the "victims of communism" monument. (CBC News)
"Holiday Inn had the old adage, 'no surprises,' and I think our relationship has to adopt that kind of philosophy."

Watson said he already spoke with Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the new minister responsible for the NCC, about the issue of surprises and the monument's location. Poilievre took over the role after John Baird resigned from federal politics last week.

"We need to engage the NCC so that these surprises don't come and that they actually engage with the public who are the ones that are going to be seeing it each and every day as they go by, as well as tourists across the country who come into our capital," Watson added.

NDP MP Paul Dewar, whose riding includes Wellington Street, also said he's written to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Diane Finley, to ask her to reconsider the monument's location.

Monument too small for site, group says

Last week, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada said they want the site moved a little further west down the street to the Garden of the Provinces and Territories.

Shirley Blumberg turned from supporter of the "victims of communism" memorial to critic of both the location and design.
The group's vice-president, Allan Teramura, said the current site had already been designated for a major federal building similar to the Supreme Court and Justice buildings.

Teramura also said it made no sense to build something that is just one-third the size of the vacant site, while there are very few spots where buildings could go up in the parliamentary precinct.

Other prominent Canadians to speak out against the location include Shirley Blumberg, one of the jury members that picked the monument design, Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin.


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