Central Saanich Cenotaph Committee receives large sum

Anonymous donor wants first phase done by Nov. 2017.

Plans for a new cenotaph in Central Saanich are coming along after an anonymous donor has indicated they want to make a significant contribution of up to $85,000 for phase one construction.

The cenotaph, which is to be built on a yet to be determined District-owned property, will be based on a traditional obelisk form. This would be paired with a landscaped area surrounding the monument, which would be suitable for the display of wreaths.

“Upon acceptance, the donor is committed to have phase one completed for the 2017 Remembrance Day service,” said Councillor Carl Jensen at Monday night’s council meeting.

Jensen is chairperson of the cenotaph committee.

“This approach would allow the funds donated (so far to be) $16,500 along with any potential grant funding and community input, to  develop phase two of the cenotaph project for the creation of a remembrance precinct, which could include additional personalized structures, statues or walls,” he said.

Council indicated its support for a phased approach to the cenotaph project. That would allow the District to accept the donation. They would also work with the donor on establishing a suitable site and design for the obelisk and grounds.

While the majority were on board with accepting the donation, some councillors were hesitant.

“I certainly appreciate the offer … but I guess my concern would be that we have a cenotaph committee, that we have a public process …” said Coun. Bob Thompson, adding it sounds like this is superseding their public process.

Coun. Zeb King  agreed with Thompson.

“It begs the question, why we have the committee if we’re not going to use them?” he said.

The item has yet to be discussed among the committee, but Jensen said he wasn’t all that concerned.

“There’s an opportunity to get the ball rolling with this and recognizing the will of the committee to provide some input into the personalized phase two that could then encompass a number of features as identified by the group,” he said.

Jensen said how the donation is being proposed, it recognizes the work of the District’s subcommittee, confirming they feel there is a need for two phases to this project.

“I think it’s important for council to realize that this does not say it’s going to go out and be built tomorrow,” Jensen explained. “This says that the donor will start working with staff to come up with a plan and it’s going to be for Remembrance Day 2017, so I would envision some back and forth and I don’t think our work here is done.”

“Of course this is something that we take seriously,” added Coun. Niall Paltiel, “and we want to do it once and we want to do it correctly.”

The cenotaph committee doesn’t have a set meeting planned at this point, but will meet again in the future to discuss the plans.