The artist behind this Parkdale landmark doesn't want his name on it - until it gets fixed

The World Peace Monument may be a well-known landmark in Parkdale, but it's definitely seen better days and not even the artist who designed it wants to be associated with it. However, there's a chance it could get refurbished as part of a proposal to build a community hub

The World Peace Monument was erected in 2005 but now it needs a facelift

The Parkdale BIA says the message behind the World Peace Monument, celebrating the diversity of the neighbourhood, still stands today. But the artist behind it wishes the piece was in better shape. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

The World Peace Monument may be a well-known landmark in Parkdale, but it's definitely seen better days and the artist who designed it doesn't want to be associated with it until it gets a facelift.

When the copper sphere was erected at Queen Street West and Cowan Avenue 14 years ago, the idea was to represent the coming together of many cultures in Parkdale. It was also supposed to light up at night, and function as a fountain for years to come — but it doesn't, and hasn't for years. Not only that, it's often full of litter.

Peter Dykhuis, the artist behind it, says the final product wasn't quite the piece of art he had in mind when he drew up the design. 

"I really didn't even want to claim it as mine, and when I finally saw it, it wasn't made anywhere close to what I was expecting," he told CBC News during an interview via FaceTime from Halifax, N.S., where he now lives.

Dykhuis says he was also commissioned to design four copper trees across the street at the Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre, and that piece is one he's proud of "because I made the trees and I finished them off to exactly the way I would a work of art."

A photo of the original model by Peter Dykhuis shows the contrast between his idea for the project and the final product. Dykhuis doesn't like the 'fishscale' design of the copper plates. (Peter Dykhuis/Submitted)

But he didn't feel as connected to the process with the World Peace Monument. He said there wasn't much consultation when it was actually being constructed.

"It's not my piece anymore. It's my idea, so I just say I'm the design contributor but I'm in no way the artist because it's nowhere near the way I envisioned it," he said. 

"Every time I walk by it looks like it's abandoned. And that makes me sad." 

Facelift could be part of larger project

Anna Bartula, executive director of the Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area, says the group maintains and cleans the piece regularly. But due to structural damage over the years, the lights and the fountain no longer work and fixing them would be costly. 

"Our fountain is actually sinking," she said.

But Bartula says there could be an opportunity to revamp the monument in the coming years. The BIA is working with the city to plan a Parkdale community hub.

"That large development does give us the opportunity to look at this monument and with the city's support, bring it to its next phase — hopefully getting it functioning, whether that's in its originally capacity or something a little bit different."

Gord Perks, the local city councillor, says it'll save the city and BIA money to give the monument a facelift when the construction that is already planned for the area gets underway. 

"We don't have a timetable or budget yet for the community hub. The thought is, yes, there would be some redevelopment of that site for community purposes," he said.

The unveiling ceremony in November 2005 shows the monument in pristine condition, working as a fountain. (Parkdale BIA/Submitted)

Perks says a report presented to the executive committee in December will recommend a preferred concept for the space based on consultations done so far, design work and cost estimates, but it's still in its early phases. 

He says he sympathizes with the artist behind it, but insists it's still a well-known and liked monument.

"Nobody wants to see their work not maintained properly," he said. "It's a thriving active part of Parkdale and people know it. It does function as a landmark."

In the spirit of the peaceful monument,  Dykhuis says he'd consider putting his name back on it again, if it was fixed up to his standards.

"Any opportunity to spruce it up, I'd like to be involved in that process if there's going to be refurbishment. I think there's things that can still be done to it."