Central Saanich changing direction on memorial cenotaph

Committee will try to find new design and a new spot for a proposed cenotaph.

This proposed design of a new veterans memorial cenotaph in Central Saanich’s Centennial Park

Discussions around a new design and a new site for a veterans memorial cenotaph are underway, with a committee eyeing possible action next year.

The current cenotaph design was rejected by the District of Central Saanich stemming from disapproval from members of the community, who Councillor Carl Jensen said were universally unhappy with the design.

The main reason, he said, was the concern the design had referenced certain groups over others. He added the committee charged with looking into the design was able to figure out which groups were not represented.

Jensen said the community, including schools, will be invited to submit their cenotaph design ideas. Entries are to be received over three months.

“The discussion centred around the idea of opening this up to the community because we feel that it needs to represent the community,” said Jensen, who was recently elected chair of the District’s cenotaph committee.

That group has seven members including Coun. Christopher Graham, resident Norma Sealey who is also with the Saanich Pioneer Society, Ed Widenmaier who is a founding member of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association and three others. Jensen said the committee thought it would be ideal for schools to be involved as students can understand the importance of having a cenotaph.

Originally the District was to put a one-month period for feedback on the cenotaph design ideas but thought that since it’s almost the end of the school year, it would be better to begin in September when the kids are back in school.

“I think we as a committee recognize that doing something for 2016 is probably not in the cards but we’d really like to ensure that we have something in place for 2017,” said Jensen.

At Central Saanich’s council meeting on June 6, Jensen walked council through some of the things being planned for the cenotaph. The main topics were the site and the structure itself.

He said it might come in the form of suggestions for a statue, wall or small obelisk, but it’s all up to the community.

One of the examples he said was mentioned by a committee member, is having a structure that would look like a soldier marching into battle at the front. And at the back, the body would transition into a farmer, which would show the reflection of where these soldiers have come from.

Jensen said another member said a n area sculptor might be interested in doing the design at a discounted price, which could be helpful for when the cost comes into play.

The other main topic discussed amongst the committee members was the site of the new cenotaph.

The general consensus of the group, although not brought forward in a motion, was the dissatisfaction with the site as currently proposed.

“We looked at possibly moving it within Centennial Park,” Jensen said.

He added one of the areas proposed was at the corner of Hovey Road and Wallace Drive — in between the baseball diamonds.

Another location that came back to the forefront for discussion was Polo Park.

Committee members are currently looking at potential sites, spending time in the discussed locations and will come back with recommendations at a future council meeting.