A Better Location for Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Photo: Douglas Sprott / CC-BY-NC 2.0 / WWW.RAIC.ORG

Monday, February 9, 2015

HERITAGE OTTAWA, By Leslie Maitland

Heritage Ottawa supports the position of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) that the proposed Memorial to the Victims of Communism be sited adjacent to the Garden of the Provinces and Territories.

Heritage Ottawa strongly supports the RAIC’s position that the proposed monument should not be located on the site adjacent to the Supreme Court of Canada on Wellington Street. This nationally significant site has long been reserved for the third building in a planned triad of judicial buildings centred on the Supreme Court. Construction of a large-scale monument in this location will permanently prevent completion of the triad and compromise the sense of place so important to this, the apex of our Canadian judicial system.

The Supreme Court of Canada, designed by Ernest Cormier, and the Justice Building designed by Burritt and Horwood Architects -  the two existing buildings in the triad - are handsomely designed structures that make important contributions to Canada’s architectural heritage. On completion of a third building in accordance with long standing plans, the judicial precinct will have significance for future generations as a reflection of Canada’s justice system and the democratic ideals on which that system is based. Maintaining the thematic integrity of this nationally significant site is key.

The RAIC makes an excellent case for relocating the proposed monument to the western lawn adjacent to the Garden of the Provinces and Territories. This splendid and prominent location on the brow of the hill would allow the monument to be visible from much of LeBreton Flats. A visual link to the War Museum and easy walking distance to the future Holocaust Memorial make this a superior location for the proposed monument, both physically and thematically.

Locating the proposed memorial adjacent to the Garden of the Provinces is a win-win situation.

 We hope that the proponents will reconsider their site choice.

The widespread public outcry against building the proposed monument adjacent to Canada’s Supreme Court demonstrates strong feelings that Canada’s heritage of democracy is sacrosanct. This significant national site on the most important streetscape in our Nation’s Capital belongs to all Canadians. It’s imperative that this site reflects the democratic ideals on which Canada was built, the democratic ideals that we continue to hold dear.

Future generations deserve a clear and unambiguous representation of Canadian democracy on a site of such national significance.